A teenager who wanted to perform his drag act at his school’s talent show has been banned from performing because the school say his act is ‘illegal’.
14-year-old Lewis Bailey has been left distraught by the ban and his mother, Natalie Bailey, believes officials at Castle High School and Visual Arts College in Dudley are making excuses so they can stop his act from going ahead.
Lewis, who’s been practising his routine for weeks, says the school’s decision, taken this Monday, to stop him performing has damaged his self-confidence.
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 heartbroken 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.
Natalie, 37, has backed her son, alleging school officials are being judgemental and arguing there’s no law ‘over impersonating a female and doing a dance’.
She claims that she can’t find any law barring someone under 18 years old from performing a drag act and believes that 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 took up drag as a hobby after watching RuPaul’s Drag Race, a TV talent show featuring talented drag queens and his parents claim his new hobby has seen him grow in confidence.
The teen came out to his mum and stepdad Dale Griffiths, 40, last year and his new hobby has helped him deal with being open and honest regarding his sexuality.
According to Natalie, Lewis’ act involved doing a medley of pop songs with his stepdad and contained no ‘raunchy behaviour’.
One of the teachers told him he couldn’t do it anymore because the law that says you can’t do competitions as a drag act if you are under 18.
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.
In response to Natalie’s claims, the school’s headmistress, Michelle King, has released a statement explaining the school’s reasons for barring Lewis from performing.
Ms King claimed that Castle Academy is an inclusive school that celebrates diversity but that with regard to Lewis’ performance it was decided it wasn’t age appropriate for the children who’d be watching.
We understood Lewis wanted to appear in the style of Ru Paul, whose style of performance is characterised by strong language and sexual innuendo.
This decision was made one day before the planned show when the full nature of his performance was made known. ‘We respect the long tradition of female impersonation in theatre, however, to appear as a drag queen, goes beyond this.