Community divided over Willis High School drag queen event

Conroe ISD trustee Dale Inman criticized Willis ISD at its Nov. 11 meeting. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
Conroe ISD trustee Dale Inman criticized Willis ISD at its Nov. 11 meeting. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)

Conroe ISD trustee Dale Inman criticized Willis ISD at its Nov. 11 meeting. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)

Image description
The Willis ISD board of trustees heard public comments for more than 30 minutes. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
Image description
Stephanie Hodgins, the principal of Willis High School, said, "Great things are happening and will continue to happen at Willis High School." (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
Image description
An attendee at the meeting wore a shirt that reads "Teach Love, Not Hate." (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
Image description
Jason Rocha, the president and CEO of The Woodlands Pride, spoke at the meeting and said 40% of LGBT teenagers attempt suicide because "they didn't feel loved." (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)




Amidst applause, boos and shouts, Willis ISD residents debated the issue of a drag queen makeup class at the Nov. 11 board of trustees meeting.

The board heard public comments for more than 30 minutes, almost all focused on an Oct. 18 event when Houston-based drag queen Lynn Adonis-Deveaux spoke in front of a Willis High School cosmetology class. Following the event, Conroe ISD trustee Dale Inman took to social media to criticize the event, the school and the district.



Inman spoke at the WISD meeting, criticizing the trustees for “flipping this story on its ear” and attacking him “personally as the whistleblower.”



“Who’s responsible for authorizing this adult entertainer who works in the sexually oriented business industry to enter the Willis High School and lay hands on our children?” Inman said.



Willis High School Principal Stephanie Hodgins was booed as she introduced herself. She said her staff is working on a model to improve student learning and student growth.



“We make decisions always keeping in mind these questions: Is this what’s best for kids? Is this going to help us grow academically?” Hodgins said. “If the answer to these questions is no, then we move on. But if the answer if yes, then we are moving in the right direction.”




Several teachers spoke in support of the event and asked for more support for the LGBT community and the students in the district. Anthony Lane, a Willis High School English teacher and parent, said he regularly hears homophobic slurs in the hallways.



“I think as a district we need to make an initiative to teach our kids to be tolerant and respectful,” Lane said.



Other parents and residents supported Inman’s comments and criticized the district for allowing the event to happen. David Riley, a pastor at Grace Family Fellowship church, said it was the “character” of Adonis-Deveaux that mattered.



“My question is this: Who examined the character of the person who stood before our kids?” Riley asked.



In a statement sent to parents, WISD said the trustees “have examined our process on guest speakers and have made some adjustments in regard to communication to better serve the Willis ISD Community.”



Many parents asked to know who was responsible for allowing the event happen in the first place and what changes to the policy have been made.



“Other than hearing the word ‘It won’t happen again,’ I have heard and seen nothing,” resident Gary Buckaloo said.



The meeting also brought out non-WISD residents, including Jason Rocha, the president and CEO of The Woodlands Pride. The board of trustees did not respond to comments at the meeting.



The next WISD meeting is Dec. 9 at 5:30 p.m. at 204 W. Rogers Road, Willis.

By Andy Li
Originally from Boone, North Carolina, Andy Li is a graduate of East Carolina University with degrees in Communication with a concentration in Journalism and Political Science. While in school, he worked as a performing arts reporter, news, arts and copy editor and a columnist at the campus newspaper, The East Carolinian. He also had the privilege to work with NPR’s Next Generation Radio, a project for student journalists exploring radio news. Moving to Houston in May 2019, he now works as the reporter for the Conroe/Montgomery edition of Community Impact Newspaper.


MOST RECENT

Montgomery County commissioners met Oct. 27 for a regular Commissioners Court meeting. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Montgomery County to reimburse schools with CARES funds at estimated $40 per student

Under the $40 per student estimate, Montgomery County could provide about $4.4 million in CARES funds to school districts.

More students have opted to attend school in person as the year has progressed. (Community Impact staff)
DATA: See how many students have shifted from remote to in-person in Conroe, Montgomery, Willis ISDs

More students have opted to attend school in person as the year has progressed.

The county's cumulative case count rose by more than 700 since last Tuesday, and active cases rose by more than 400. (Community Impact staff)
Montgomery County sees more than 21% increase in active COVID-19 cases Oct. 20-26

The county's active case count reached 2,362 Oct. 26, a jump of more than 400 since last Tuesday and the highest such total recorded since late July.

A photo uploaded to Facebook in late September shows trees have been cleared as developers plan for a spring 2021 opening date. (Courtesy GMI Management)
Affordable manufactured housing community to open in Conroe

The standard lot size will be 50 feet by 125 feet, beginning at $450 per month.

Early voting turnout among registered county voters passed 51% Oct. 26. (Community Impact staff)
Updated: Montgomery County reaches early voting turnout high of more than 51% through 13 days

Nearly 190,000 county residents have voted in this year's early voting period.

Magnolia's First Baptist Church will host its annual pumpkin patch, featuring food and other activities, such as hay rides, "punkin' chunkin'" and photo opportunities. (Courtesy Magnolia's First Baptist Church)
Fall fun: 8 pumpkin patches to visit in North Houston

From photo opportunities to hayrides, here are a few places to put on your list this fall.

(Courtesy NewQuest Properties)
Shogun Japanese Grill and Sushi Bar opens in Spring and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

Over 146,00 county residents had cast ballots as of Oct. 22. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
See where turnout stands at Montgomery County's polling places after 9 days of early voting

From Willis to The Woodlands, thousands of county residents have turned out to vote each day since early voting began Oct. 13.

An election official directs a car to a spot at the Humble Civic Center's drive-thru voting location. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
Drive-thru voting in Harris County becomes popular and more top Houston-area news

Read top stories from the past week from the Houston area.

Up to 40,000 Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas members could be impacted if a contract agreement cannot be reached. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
CHI St. Luke's Hospital faces potential contract termination with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas at multiple Houston, Southeast Texas locations

If an agreement cannot be reached, up to 40,000 Houstonians could find their local hospital is out of network for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas.

Sara Dillard and Adriana Marshall are new owners of the Rush Cycle location in Woodforest. (Courtesy Rush Cycle-Woodforest)
Sandwiches, spin class and more: The latest business news for Conroe, Montgomery

The Conroe and Montgomery area has seen new businesses open and changes in ownership in recent months.

Conroe ISD has been open for in-person and remote instruction since mid-August. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Total positive COVID-19 reports among Conroe ISD students, staff passes 400

As of Oct. 22, the district had recorded 181 positive COVID-19 reports among students and 225 among staff this year.