Drag queen's visit to primary sparks social media storm

Primary school receives praise and criticism for asking drag queen to read to pupils, but education secretary says visit should not have happened

Tes Reporter

Drag queen's visit to primary sparks social media storm

A drag queen's visit to a primary school to read to pupils has sparked a huge reaction on social media.

Critics highlighted content on the drag queen's social media accounts that was unsuitable for children, including an Instagram page where there was also a picture of the pupils being read to.

The local authority responsible for the school has started an investigation and Scotland's education secretary and deputy first minister has said that the visit should not have taken place.

However, the school also received widespread support online and there were accusations of homophobia driving much of the criticism.

The drag queen, who uses the name Flow when speaking to children but "FlowJob" when performing for adults, was at the centre of the backlash following a visit with SNP MP Mhairi Black to Glencoats Primary in Paisley, Renfrewshire.

They spoke about Section 28, the law which used to prevent schools from teaching about LGBT issues.

However, critics said they were concerned about sexualised online content involving Flow; they also cited safeguarding concerns, as a photograph of the drag queen reading to the schoolchildren appeared on the "flowjobqueen" Instagram page, in among more adult content.

Ms Black tweeted that critics' "homophobia is transparent", which Jamie Halcro Johnston – a Scottish Conservatives shadow education minister – described as "an appalling response".


This afternoon, Scottish education secretary and deputy first minister John Swinney said that Flowjob “quite clearly” should not have been invited to address pupils at the school and that "lessons have got to be learnt", but he did not directly criticise SNP colleague Ms Black.

He said: “I think the whole question of enabling young people to understand LGBT issues is an important element of equipping young people to understand the modern world, and that’s an implicit part of the health and wellbeing element of the curriculum.

“But quite clearly this was an invitation that should not have been issued, given the background material that had been on the social media account of the individual concerned.

“I understand that Renfrewshire Council has apologised for that, and I think that’s the correct thing for them to have done.”

Asked what he thought of Ms Black accusing online critics of homophobia, he said: “I think what’s important is I think parents have raised quite understandable concerns about this matter, which is why it was correct for Renfrewshire Council to express an apology about the fact that this invitation has been issued.

“The invitation was issued in good faith, because the school was trying to do something which I think is important, and that is to respond to pupil aspirations to understand more about LGBT issues, and I think that is an important hallmark of our society – that young people want to understand that.

“But, crucially, we have to be sensitive about the invitations that are issued to enable that to be done, and in this case that’s not been done, and Renfrewshire Council are therefore quite correct to have apologised for this.”

Mr Swinney said his officials had spoken to the council.

After the controversy started, a statement from Renfrewshire Council read: “The school pupils at Glencoats Primary are currently organising a series of activities and events to mark LGBT history month.

“In discussion with pupils in their Rainbow Club, one of their requests was to invite people from the LGBT community to hear about their own experiences growing up and they wanted to invite a drag queen to talk to this group to hear about their own personal experience.

“Learning about values including equalities and diversity has an important role in the school curriculum.

"All school visits are arranged and managed with the wellbeing of pupils first and foremost however it is clear in this case, the social media content associated with the speaker’s stage persona is not appropriate for children and had we been aware of this, the visit would not have been arranged. We are sorry for the concern this has caused and are investigating."

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Tes Reporter

Latest stories