July 19, 2024

A school district in Albuquerque, N.M., has placed employees at a high school on leave and installed a new acting principal as it investigates a performance by a drag queen at the prom this month.

Video on TikTok from the Atrisco Heritage Academy High School prom, held at a convention center on April 20, and published by an NBC affiliate, KOB 4, showed the drag performer in boots, stockings and a body suit dancing as the students were gathered around, watching.

On April 24, as the school’s Facebook page was flooded with comments that the show was inappropriate for minors, Channell Segura, the chief of schools at Albuquerque Public Schools, said in a letter to families that the district was investigating the performance to determine “what occurred and how students were impacted.”

The letter was published by local news stations and provided to the Times on Tuesday.

Another letter sent to families on April 25 named a new acting principal, Anthony Lovato, for the high school, according to the text published by KOAT, another local station. Mr. Lovato was apparently replacing the principal, identified as Irene Cisneros on the school’s website. Ms. Cisneros could not be reached by telephone on Tuesday.

Martin Salazar, a district spokesman, said in an emailed statement on Tuesday that the letter about Mr. Lovato was correct but he did not provide a copy. “We cannot comment on any specific personnel matters,” he said. “We can, however, confirm that employees have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.”

A person who answered the phone at the school on Tuesday said Ms. Cisneros was not at the school but gave no details.

Dylan Payan, who performed at the senior prom under the stage name Mythica Sahreen, said in an interview on Tuesday that the drag routine, and his outfit, had been given full approval by school officials, whom he had emailed, texted and met with in person before the event.

He said that while they were initially concerned about parts of his “natural body” showing, he reassured them that the outfit — which appears at first glance to be a simple black leotard and thigh-high boots — was in fact a far more complex ensemble, involving couch cushions shaved down to size with a turkey carver and shoved beneath seven layers of pantyhose to create the illusion of a womanly figure. “Everything is fake,” he said.

Mr. Payan, 26, a behavioral therapist who works with autistic children, said that he had previously hosted workshops for L.G.B.T.Q. students at the school, and had performed similar shows there at least three times before, none of which had ever received any negative feedback.

The same was initially true, he added, of the most recent performance, so Mr. Payan was shocked when a few days later, he began receiving dozens of hateful messages, including death threats, after a video of the routine was posted to TikTok. Mr. Payan said he had tried to reach the school several times, but had not received a response.

Criticism that the show was inappropriate for a school prom, he added, quickly devolved into transphobic and threatening rhetoric. “At this point, it’s just turned into a hate crime,” he said. “What kind of message are you sending to your children?”

#Albuquerque #Schools #Staff #Leave #Drag #Show #Prom

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