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Dept. of Education cancels Lakeland drag queen's talk at Orlando school
By Rebecca Petit,
A Lakeland man who performs as a drag queen was scheduled to speak to the LGBTQ+ student club in Orlando this week, but the event was suddenly canceled.
Jason DeShazo, also known as Momma Ashley Rose, runs the Rose Dynasty Foundation, a nonprofit that raises money to support LGBTQ+ youth.
"Try to provide safe spaces for LGBTQ+ youth and families," said DeShazo.
He was asked to speak at an after-school event for Boone High School's Queer and Ally Alliance. He planned to be in drag, talk to students about life as a queer person, and answer questions students might have.
"It's really a positive message and inciting and giving this love and acceptance to these queer kids and allies. We've never had an issue before until this time," said DeShazo.
DeShazo learned Wednesday that the Florida Department of Education canceled the "Drag and Donuts" event.
"A student-led after-school event for queer kids to keep that safe space, and people are shutting them down. It's really important that we provide that. We talk about protecting our children, but we're only protecting the children who are not queer and not LGBTQ+," DeShazo said.
DeShazo said it would have been his third or fourth time speaking at the high school. The cancelation came the same day Gov. Ron DeSantis proposed expanding the so-called "Don't Say Gay" law to include high school.
Boone High School's principal sent this message to parents:
"The event Donuts & Drag was not a drag show but an opportunity for the students to hear a positive message of acceptance and love. This was to be the third year the speaker has addressed this club. After receiving a call from the Florida Department of Education today, we have canceled the event. The department questioned whether the event was age and developmentally appropriate and indicated any administrator, teacher, or staff member in attendance may be investigated and jeopardize their professional license," the call said.
ABC Action News contacted the Department of Education but did not receive a response.
DeShazo, who spoke before lawmakers in Tallahassee this week, believes the state is heading down a dangerous path.
"Our suicide rate already is high in our LGBTQ+ youth community, especially our trans youth. Mental health, we're already having an issue with that because they don't feel safe, they don't feel wanted. That's why we spread that message of love, accepted and wanted," he said.
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