Teacher suspended for showing kids drag queen Christmas video
A Vancouver Island teacher has been suspended with pay after showing a class of Grade 4 students a Christmas video that some parents feel was sexually charged.
The video features drag queens in bikinis and a man in a Speedo lip-synching to Bette Midler’s “Mele Kalikimaka,” a Hawaiian Christmas song, on the beach.
Teacher Joe Winkler said he showed the video to his students at Brentwood Elementary School, located north of Victoria in the small community of Brentwood Bay, as a jumping off point for classroom discussion.
“When I found the video, I thought it would be an excellent way of introducing the children to transgender issues,” Winkler wrote in an email to parents.
“As with other LGBT issues, we have not looked at transgender as being about sex, and there was no mention or suggestion of sex in the video.”
Though the stars of the clip are scantily clad, the tone is light and playful; among the raciest moments is a short shot in which one of the drag queens plays a xylophone that’s sitting on the man’s clothed buttocks.
Not every parent was offended. Some say Winkler, who is gay, has done a good job of covering diversity issues at school, and keeping his students engaged in general.
“I have never seen my son as excited about school as he’s been this year,” parent Alice Bacon said.
But others, like Al Smith, said the teacher still should have spoken to parents before airing the offending clip.
“At the end, the guy’s peeling the banana, acting very sexually with the banana,” Smith said. “When I was at the school this morning there were parents pulling their kids out of class, which to me is a pretty clear sign that you’ve offended some people.”
Dr. Keven Elder of the Saanich School District agreed, and said an investigation has been launched to determine how to respond.