School cancels Pride celebration to protect pupils after ‘fury’ stirred by right-wing press 

New Mills School

A secondary school in Derbyshire has cancelled its Pride event after backlash in right-wing national media stirred up “fury” over its planned celebration.

New Mills School had planned to hold a non-school uniform event on 16 June, named “Drag ’n’ Rainbows”, in which children were invited to dress in rainbow colours or paint their nails to support Pride month.

But following negative reporting by the right-wing press, the school’s headteacher, Heather Watts, informed parents the event had been cancelled to “avoid any potential disruption to school”. 

A letter informing parents about the school’s Pride plans was attacked by The Telegraph and Mail Online. Both publications wrote that parents and MPs had reacted with “fury” over the day. 

Following the negative media attention Watts sent a letter to parents and carers confirming the cancellation due to “a large number of emails, both supporting the event and expressing their concerns about the event”. 

She added: “Although we support diversity, I have to consider the well-being of all our pupils with a large number of students taking their exams I have to consider the potential impact of any distractions”. 

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In the May letter promoting the event, pupils were invited to dress up by wearing “something rainbow or colourful” or “going all out in full-blown drag” to celebrate Pride month.

The Telegraph reported that children were “urged” to wear drag by the school.

The day, organised following a suggestion from the school’s LGBT group, was also scheduled to host a talk by Aida H Dee who runs Drag Queen Story Hour events. 

Reporting on the letter, the Daily Telegraph and the Mail Online wrote that parents and MPs had reacted with “fury” over the day. 

The Telegraph also attacked comments from a teacher at the school, who had said “drag is an art form that is fundamental to the LGBT+ community that challenges the norm as a celebration and as a form of protest”.

Referring to Aida H Dee’s participation in the event, Robertson explained she would “explore homophobia and mental health”. 

An unnamed insider told the Telegraph: “Last year involved non-uniform and a few cup cakes, but this year it’s in a whole different league. They are making drag the central theme which, I feel, is quite controversial.”

The source also made unfounded suggestions that drag acts at the school would involve “sexualised” performances for secondary school children.

Head of the Commons education select committee, Robin Walker, told the publication that schools are allowed to discuss LGBT matters, but they must not go “beyond what most people would see as reasonable”. 

“It sounds in this case like a school going well beyond that and of course that is a matter of concern,” he added. 

Headteacher Heather Watts confirmed the school’s relationships, health and sex education was age-appropriate, adding: “We are firmly committed to equipping all our students with the knowledge they need to confidently ask questions.”

In the recent letter she wrote that pupils, parents and staff will be engaged in discussion to decide “alternative events” to celebrate Pride in the future.

PinkNews has contacted New Mills School for comment.