A prestigious Manhattan private school pressured students to attend and celebrate a drag show at a church, according to reports.
As part of its LGBTQ+ pride celebrations, Grace Church High School invited New York City drag queen Brita Filter for a live performance on April 27, according to the New York Post, which described the school as "a progressive independent Episcopal school" in the East Village that charges over $59,000 for yearly tuition.
In video footage posted on Instagram, Filter, whose real name is Jesse Havea, can be seen singing a rendition of the classic "The Wizard of Oz" tune. The performer dances along the aisle while students stand and watch.
"Who said you can't have a drag queen at church? Would you go to this service?" Filter captioned the video.
Students speaking with the Canadian online magazine Post Millennial recently admitted they felt pressured into participating.
"There was tons of social pressure to dance along and pretend like it was normal for sure, whether it be people tapping on shoulders and telling them to stand up or just a collective staring contest at whoever wasn’t totally participating," said a student who wished to remain anonymous.
Another student recalled how, as Filter approached the alter, other dancing students joined in, with some "twerking."
"I wondered, is this really happening in a chapel?" the student said while another observed "tons of social pressure to dance along and pretend that this was normal for church."
After performing, Filter fielded questions alongside Andrew Leonard, the school’s queer director of vocal music. It was during this section of the event that Grace Schools' non-binary teacher Uyen Nguyen opened up about the difficulties they were experiencing, particularly with the school's administration, and announced they were resigning.
Students in attendance told The Post Millennial that Nguyen told the chapel "how much they loved the gay kids at school, and how this has been the most inclusive and accepting place they've ever been, but it's the administration they cannot work with."
"The administration is not supportive of their identity," the student said. "They kept just saying that they were getting misgendered and people weren’t using their pronouns."
In June, the school hosted two other LGBTQ events to celebrate Pride Month and also held its first-ever Pride Chapel event for its lower school. During the service, Grace Church Schools chaplain Rev. Mark Hummel shared a few words on the importance of pride.
"Pride Chapels, along with the other history and identity-based chapels and assemblies held throughout the year, help empower Grace students to foster a safe and welcoming place for all, in which the diversity of our school is celebrated and lifted up," the school said about the events.
The Post noted on Wednesday that the school had not responded to a request for additional comment.
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