Fury Erupts Over How High School Used Federal Funds
Controversy is swirling in Manchester, New Hampshire over the use of leftover American Rescue Plan funds for a Pride event that includes drag show performers. The event, which will take place on June 2 in celebration of Pride Month, has drawn criticism from Republican Department of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut, who suggested the funds could be used for other purposes.
“Is this really the best use of taxpayer funds?” Edelblut asked in a statement to Newsweek.
Democratic Mayor Joyce Craig approved the grant request from Manchester West High School for the event, which is requesting a total of $4,000 from the city with a $2,000 matching funds contribution from the school. The funds, allocated from federal pandemic relief, will be used for decorations, food chafers, Pride decorations and $500 for drag performers.
The use of federal funds to support LGBTQ+ events is raising eyebrows given the national divisiveness over such matters. Major corporations have faced boycotts for advertising campaigns involving transgender influencers, while state laws have passed banning gender identity education and public drag shows.
The district's superintendent, Jennifer Gillis, defended the school's event efforts, stating that it was in line with district policies and the community-developed strategic plan. She touted the professionalism of the event, noting that it would be an after-school, extra-curricular, opt-in event.
“As with other years, this is an after-school, extra-curricular, opt-in event,” Gillis told Newsweek. “It’s important to note that West High School has been hosting a Pride event since 2018, and the agenda for this event is similar to other years.”
When the federal government allocated funds for cities during the coronavirus pandemic, it provided a wide range of possible uses, including supporting those who have been negatively affected by the pandemic and providing assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits.
In a statement, principal Richard Dichard supported the school’s decision to use the funding for the drag show, emphasizing that the school supports all clubs and organizations and their activities, including this event.
As the debate continues to rage over the state’s use of taxpayer funds on the event, one thing is certain: the LGBTQ+ community will likely be watching closely to see how Manchester handles Pride Month this June.