New Hampshire School District Using $4,000 in COVID Relief Funds to Pay For High School Drag Show

A New Hampshire school district is using COVID Relief funds to pay for a drag show at a high school.

Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig’s administration has approved $4,000 for Manchester High School West’s June 2 Pride Event, which will come from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding, according to a report from NH Journal.

“That includes $500 to pay drag performers to appear at the public school,” the report states. “The funding was approved through the city’s Community Event and Activation Grant, or CEAG, program, according to documents obtained by NHJournal.”

Manchester School District Superintendent Jennifer Gillis defended the event by claiming it is optional for students.

“As a district, we support and care for all of our students as they learn and grow … Events such as this are consistent with the goals of our community-developed strategic plan, and in line with district policies,” Gillis said.“As with other years, this is an after-school, extra-curricular, opt-in event.”

“In prior years, it’s been well-attended, including students, families and members of the West Side community. This year, the group organizing the event applied for and received a Community Event and Activation Grant from American Rescue Plan Act funds through the city of Manchester. Although this is a school event, the district and partner organizations are working to help support the school as needed.”

Manchester West art teacher Richella Simard, who applied for the grant, requested a photo booth and film, a PA system, tables, chafing dishes, and an additional $500 for unspecified “Pride decorations and swag,” the paper explained.

The event is estimated to cost over $6,000.

Tina Kim Philibotte, chief equity officer for the Manchester School District, claimed that the event is “essential” for the lives of LGBTQ students.

“Events like this Pride celebration continue in West High School’s tradition of honoring youth voices in ways that feel meaningful to them,” said Philibotte in a statement. “Joyful spaces where LGBTQ+ youth feel loved, celebrated, and centered is the work of public education.”

The Democrat mayor is currently planning a run for governor.