As venues across the state continue exposing children to drag shows, one education conference aimed at Texas teachers is featuring three board members of Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) as speakers.

Every year, the South by Southwest festival sponsors SXSW EDU, a conference held in Austin for teachers and other educators that advertises “learning and discovery for all education stakeholders.” The four-day event features programming based on 11 different themes in education, including Global Initiatives, Accessibility and Inclusion, and Policy and Civic Engagement.

The conference also offers an Equity and Justice track, which addresses “work championing equity, justice, access, diversity, and inclusion in education and beyond, including social and economic disparities, culturally responsive teaching, anti-racism practice, LGBTQ+ issues, restorative justice and more to ensure equitable opportunities and outcomes for all.”

Late last month, SXSW EDU announced the featured speakers for their March 2023 conference, including three Drag Queen Story Hour board members who will dress in drag and describe the “Fight for Queer Herstories.” The program features DQSH President Beatrice Thomas as Black Benatar, Executive Board Director Jonathan Hamilt as Ona Louise, and Board Treasurer Lil Miss Hot Mess.

The conference is advertising the drag queens’ presentation as a way for teachers and school officials to learn about promoting “LGBTQAI+” materials to young children.

Drag Queen Story Hour uses drag as a traditional art form to promote literacy, teach about LGBTQ lives, and activate children’s imaginations. This session demonstrates and shares the importance of LGBTQAI+ family programming and spreads our vision for a world in which every child can be safe fully expressing who they are.

Although the next SXSW EDU is several months away, the organization is calling for teachers and school administrators to register for admission badges and book hotels now. The conference also provides a pre-written “Make the Case Letter” for teachers to send to their school administrators and “convince” them to pay for an entrance badge and travel costs with taxpayer dollars.

Do you need approval or some help convincing your boss that you should attend SXSW EDU? Download the letter template that you can use to convince your boss, school, district, or institution leader to approve and fund your trip.

Currently, SXSW EDU is offering early registrants a rate of $495 per entry badge. However, a badge only provides access to the conference’s programming and does not cover meals, hotel fees, or other travel expenses.

Last year, four Texas school districts spent thousands of taxpayer dollars sending employees to the SXSW EDU conference. Austin Independent School District spent more than $4,000, Fort Worth ISD paid more than $9,000, and San Antonio ISD sent one teacher for $525. Round Rock ISD—a district embroiled in controversy—paid more than $12,000 in registration fees to send 30 employees to the education conference.

Concerned parents and citizens can contact their local school district to find out if they plan to send employees to the SXSW EDU conference with taxpayer dollars.

Katy Marshall

Katy graduated from Tarleton State University in 2021 after majoring in history and minoring in political science.