A number of parents in Colorado are outraged after a public school invited a drag queen to speak to children for a career day, prompting a partial apology from the principal.
"I was pretty appalled. I was pretty surprised. It was a shock because no one was notified," parent Jen Payer told local news station KDVR.
Parent Heather Rogers added: "This person is an adult entertainer and is talking to 12-year-old students about something that's adult nature."
The drag queen, who goes by the stage name "Jessica L'Whor," made an introduction as "Ms. Jessica" to the students at Rocky Top Middle School during career day.
Jessica was reportedly invited by a fan to attend career day, which is intended for speakers to explain how their job connects to literacy.
Jessica said: "I had a couple kids that were like, 'I'm gay in school and I get bullied every week and I don't know what to do and just talking to you helped me realize that I can still be me and still be happy.'"
Jessica further told CBS4 that most students were educated by the visit.
"I went to four classes. In every class, one person asked me how to handle negativity and hate," the performer said. "There were a lot of kids interested in how I could have the confidence to go out looking the way I look."
Jessica added: "I would tell the parents, 'I'm not telling your kid to go off and become a drag queen. I'm telling them to have the conversations. Because, it will come up in life."
Rocky Top Principal Chelsea Behanna defended the event for highlighting the diverse community, but offered an apology for not warning parents ahead of time over the invited speakers.
Behanna noted in a letter to parents that "a handful of people have expressed concern over the presence of a drag queen in our middle school."
"Jessica, the drag queen, began her guest session with an explanation of her career — as did all other guests. She explained that she is a performer who, though a man, portrays a woman for her performances. She detailed her background in the performing arts throughout middle and high school, talked about her dream of being a teacher, then explained how she earned a business degree from Colorado State University," she explained.
"Jessica then read a great chapter from Horrible Harry in Room 2B by Suzy Kline. She used the text to illustrate the damage bullies can do, the need to always put kindness and acceptance at the forefront, and the shortsightedness of judging a book by its cover. Students were completely engaged and asked lots of great questions."
Behanna took responsibility for failing to notify families ahead of time, and said that she apologizes "for any stress this has caused you and your child."
"This year we used the same process as last year, sharing the schedule of speakers with staff so they could prepare students and plan for questions, but realize we cannot make it the students' responsibility to share that information at home," the principal added.
"Moving forward, a prominent step in planning for next year will be to share the guest list for all families prior to the event. Should you feel like any of the sessions are not appropriate for your child, you'll be welcome to notify us and we'll make alternate arrangements for your child during that time."
Parents across the country have spoken out against events allowing drag queens to speak to school children, such as "Drag Queen Story Time."
In September, two religious organizations in Louisiana filed a lawsuit in federal court against such events, calling them unconstitutional.
Christopher Sevier, an attorney representing Warriors for Christ and Special Forces of Liberty, argued that the events at public libraries violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment, as they promote the religion of secular humanism.
"By bringing this lawsuit, we are unapologetically and firmly defending the civil rights movement led by Pastor Martin Luther King," Sevier said last month.