ENCINITAS — Local officials are reacting to an unfolding uproar in Encinitas over a school district’s decision to post an online flyer advertising a family-friendly queer Halloween party with a Disney villain-themed drag show.
Last week, parents at the Encinitas Unified School District organized a protest after an advertisement for Boo Bash, the “queerest free Halloween party for youth and families,” on the school district’s website via PeachJar, a digital hub for events and communications.
The event, scheduled for Oct. 29, will be hosted by TransFamily Support Services and is being sponsored by several LGBTQ+ organizations, including Rich’s San Diego, a popular gay nightclub in downtown San Diego, and Align Surgical Associates, a gender reassignment surgery program.
Some controversy persists over the school district’s association with the event. The director of TransFamily Support Services told NBC 7 that the advertisement wouldn’t have appeared on the PeachJar platform without the district’s permission.
The district released a statement last week claiming that Boo Bash was pulled from PeachJar three weeks ago because it did not meet approval criteria, but declined to comment any further.
Last week, Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer took to social media to express her outrage over local backlash to the Boo Bash event.
“The parents in my home school district (Encinitas Union) protesting the Halloween Drag Show should be ashamed of themselves for pushing hate and intolerance on all of us. THIS KIND OF BIGOTRY HAS NO PLACE IN OUR COMMUNITY. Trans kids: I see you, I love you, you ARE welcome here,” Lawson-Remer wrote in a Twitter post. “My three-year-old and I WILL be at Boo Bash — queerest free Halloween party for youth and families! Hope to see y’all there!”
Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner-Horvath (D-Encinitas) echoed Lawson-Remer’s comments in a statement provided to The Coast News.
“Our communities here in Encinitas and La Costa overwhelmingly welcome and support our LGBTQIA+ members,” Boerner-Horvath said. “This manufactured controversy stemmed from largely out-of-town, homophobic extremists intent on dividing us. They failed — if they had any shame, they’d be ashamed. While EUSD did not host this event, district staff and parents fully appreciate the need to create inclusive, supportive environments for all of our youth. We celebrate our diversity here in North County, especially because it is the family-friendly thing to do.”
The parents in my home school district (Encinitas Union) protesting the Halloween Drag Show should be ashamed of themselves for pushing hate and intolerance on all of us.
THIS KIND OF BIGOTRY HAS NO PLACE IN OUR COMMUNITY.
Trans kids: I see you, I love you, you ARE welcome here. https://t.co/s1d2c1bKRK
— Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer (@SupLawsonRemer) October 13, 2022
Councilman Tony Kranz also weighed on the controversy, which he called “frustrating” and potentially painful to transgender students and their families.
“The frustrating thing here is the sensationalization of anything and everything when it comes to controversial issues like LGBTQ+ and race,” said Councilman Tony Kranz. “The reality is that the school district had little to do with that event, and it got spun out of control, and people reacted without having all the information they needed.
“My understanding of how it went is from the statement the superintendent made online. Based upon that explanation, people got it flat wrong. Whenever it’s anything to do with controversial matters, it’s clear that people react without all the information that they need.”
In addition to being an unjustified overreaction, Kranz warned that the backlash to Boo Bash could harm LGBTQ+ youth, for whom such events might hold significance.
“I have no issues with a private event organized for families of LGBTQ+ children,” Kranz said. “I’m not going to criticize parents who want to decide to participate in events like this. This was not even an event hosted by the school district.
“But when the mob gets moving on things like this, and the usual media outlets propagandize about the issue, it can really cause some pain and trauma to people in these disfavored groups, and that is to the detriment of not only our community but our country.”
On Friday, EUSD Superintendent Andrée Grey released a statement regarding the incident, attempting to dispel misinformation surrounding the school’s involvement with Boo Bash.
“I have been saddened to see how our district has recently been portrayed in the media,” Grey said. “I know many of you have also reached out with these concerns. Unfortunately, there has been inaccurate information spread via television and social media. EUSD is not hosting the event. This is NOT a district event.”
The school district’s website does state that “Peachjar is used exclusively for distribution of school-approved flyers.” The superintendent noted that while a EUSD staff member had posted the flier to the PeachJar platform, the individual did not follow the district’s criteria for approving fliers.
“Although this flier was approved in error, and we regret this mistake, we are especially saddened that the situation has negatively impacted families of gender-diverse children,” Grey said. “Our intention is always to be safe and inclusive spaces for all children and families. EUSD continues to be steadfast in our commitment to be a supportive district for all students regardless of race, ethnicity, linguistic background, economic class, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and physical and cognitive ability.”
This woman’s speech at a school board meeting–after a school sent emails advertising a “family friendly” drag show for kids (sponsored by a 21+ gay bar)–is so good I’m going to transcribe it and explain why it’s so effective.
— Wokal Distance (@wokal_distance) October 13, 2022
The Coast News reached out to numerous public officials and electoral candidates for this story for comment, but the majority declined.
One North County elected official, who insisted on anonymity due to fear of retaliation, said, “The question is not about respecting trans rights or respecting trans children; the question is why are we sexualizing children through events sponsored by adult nightclubs?”
Last week, Brittany Mayer, a school district parent who appeared on Fox News to lambast the flier and the school’s supposed involvement with the queer Halloween party, spoke during a school board meeting, ripping into district officials.
“What is it about a grown man, costumed in a sparkly bra with augmented boobs busting out, a leather miniskirt barely covering his twerking a– with duct tape on his front while spreading his fish-netted legs as he writhes on the ground, grinding his groin next to a minor, family-friendly,” Mayer asked the board before demanding an apology.
“You all played the activist pimp for Align Surgical center and a 21-plus gay bar. It makes you groomers and activist pimps, and we won’t have those sitting on a school board that oversees the education of our children.”
Former Miss USA contestant Carrie Boller, an Encinitas mother of two children — both of whom she reportedly pulled from the school district — was also outraged by the flyer, viewing the event as an attempt to sexualize children.
“Encinitas Union School District sent out a flyer promoting a drag show sponsored by a sex change surgical center and a gay nightclub,” Boller told The Coast News. “They wanted to invite our children to be exposed to this inappropriate sexual behavior and thought they could get away with it. Why would the district be okay with inviting young children to a ‘trans-centered’ event while grown men dressing half-naked dance provocatively in front of young children? The word that defines that is ‘groomer.’ We will not allow this in our district and demand answers and resignations.”
The district’s approval policy for Peachjar e-flyers prohibits submissions that “promote the use or sale of materials or services that are illegal or inconsistent with school objectives, including, but not limited to, materials or advertisements for tobacco, intoxicants, and movies or products unsuitable for children.” The policy also will not approve postings that are “lewd, obscene, libelous, or slanderous,” the policy reads.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to include a statement from Encinitas mother and community activist Carrie Boller.