14-year-old gay schoolboy banned from the school talent show over his drag act
His mother Natalie, 37, is furious with the school, who claim that it is illegal for under-18s to take part in drag act competitions
A 14-year-old boy was banned from his school talent show — over his drag act.
Lewis Bailey had been practising his lip-sync dance routine in his heels for weeks so was distraught when teachers said he couldn't take part. His furious mum Natalie, 37, claims the school's legal team said it was illegal for under 18s to take part in drag act competitions.
But brave Lewis and his proud family have accused the school of inventing the apparent law in a bid to block his act because they "don't accept him for who he is".
Lewis, who is gay, said the snub from Castle High School and Visual Arts College in Dudley — which came a DAY before the contest — has really knocked his confidence.
The principal said the school "stands by our belief that it is not appropriate for young people to perform drag acts".
The schoolboy said: "They claim it's because it is illegal — but I think the real reason is they don't accept me for who I am. I'm heart broken and confused. After all the effort I have put into it, it has knocked my confidence a lot. When I'm in drag I feel I'm truly being myself."
Full-time mum Natalie added: "I think the school are being judgmental. There's no law over impersonating a female and doing a dance. We can't find anything anywhere that says that, and anyway it's a school talent show, not a competition.
"The school it's very multicultural and I think the school think some of the parents won't like it. But people should be able to do what they want to do and be who they want to be. They have really knocked his confidence. They have knocked his confidence to zero."
Lewis has loved dancing all his life and decided he wanted to be a drag performer after watching RuPaul's Drag Race. The popular American TV series features talented drag queens lip-sync for an $100,000 prize.
Lewis came out as gay to his mum and stepdad Dale Griffiths, 40, an ambulance driver, last year, and has performed in drag for the family at home.
Mum-of-three Natalie said his new hobby — which includes immaculate make up and choreography — has seen the once-withdraw lad come out of his shell. He entered the talent contest around three weeks ago, and has been practising at home and with a teacher at school ever since, she said.
Lewis' performance was a dance to a medley of tracks he mixed with his stepdad, including songs by Little Mix, Ariana Grande and RuPaul. He was planning to wear a floral co-ord top blazer and skirt from eBay, high heels hig grandmother brought him, and a long silver wig.
But he was "pulled out of lessons" and told he couldn't take part on Monday — ahead of the show on Tuesday night, he said. "One of the teachers told him he couldn't do it any more because the law that says you can't do competitions as a drag act if you are under 18," said Natalie.
"This would have been his first performance in front of people in public. His act for the talent show was dressing as a lady and dancing. There is no swearing, no raunchy behaviour, nothing over the top. It's just him dressing as a female doing a dance."
"I can't believe it. I spoke to the headteacher this morning (Tues) and she asked if I was removing him from the school because I wasn't happy with the decision. I said no. Why should he miss out on his education because of their views."
Michelle King, principal at Castle Academy, said: "Castle is an inclusive school that celebrates diversity. With regard to the performance of our student Lewis Bailey at the end-of-term talent show; we made the decision that it was not age appropriate for either the learner and for the intended audience, his peer group, for Lewis to appear as a “drag act.”
"We understood Lewis wanted to appear in the style of Rau Paul [sic], whose style of performance is characterised by strong language and sexual innuendo. We invited Lewis to appear in the show as a singer and were happy for him to dress in any manner he wished."
"This decision was made one day before the planned show, when the full nature of his performance was made known. We regret we did not communicate this earlier but stand by our belief that it is not appropriate for young people to perform drag acts. Rau Paul’s own TV show requires contestants to have a minimum age of 18 years old.
"We respect the long tradition of female impersonation in theatre, however to appear as a drag
queen, goes beyond this. Our decision was entirely made on the basis of age appropriateness, with sensitivity to both Lewis and to his fellow students."
Author: Laura Elvin
© South West News Service