A teacher at a Minnetonka middle school paid tribute to transgender activist, drag queen, sex worker, and criminal Marsha P. Johnson during an online “morning show” for the school in mid-February.
A two-minute presentation posted on the school’s “eLearning” site by language arts teacher Colin Perucco highlighted Johnson, a transgender activist in the 1960s who was also notorious for her sex work and involvement in criminal and drug activity.
Although Perucco noted Johnson’s role in the Stonewall riots and activism for the gay community, he focused more on Johnson’s identity as a “self-identified drag queen” and the discrimination she faced. A photo of Johnson in drag attire was on display throughout the entirety of the presentation.
Parents reportedly disapproved of Perucco’s choice to highlight Johnson and wrote to the school board with their concerns.
The group Minnetonka Coalition for Equitable Education (MCEE) ran with the situation, throwing parents under the bus for being “anti-equity” and claiming some parents want Perucco terminated.
Principal Pete Dymit sent a statement to families on March 1 that explicitly said he intends to keep Perucco as “part of our staff for many years.”
“I feel Mr. Perucco is an excellent teacher who is highly committed to supporting the academic, social, and emotional development of our students,” Dymit wrote. “He is loved by his students, respected by his peers, and I look forward to having him as a part of our staff for many years.”
Nonetheless, MCEE planned a rally before the Minnetonka School Board meeting Thursday night to show its support for Perucco. The group has a list of “demands” for the school board, including that the board write Perucco a “Letter of No Fault.”
Misrepresentation of parents
A post on the group’s Instagram page last week called on followers to send emails to the school board and principal “demanding that Mr. Perucco’s rights to teach inclusive and diverse materials be upheld.”
The post claims that “anti-equity parents are sending emails to the district asking for Mr. Perucco, a teacher providing education on diverse historical figures, to be fired.”
In reality, parents of middle schoolers are unhappy with the fact that their 11-to-13-year-olds could easily become curious about Johnson, look her up, and find information that is not suitable for children, according to a letter sent by a parent in the district to Dymit and school board members and shared with Alpha News.
Johnson’s involvement in prostitution, drug usage, and criminal activity are featured in MA-rated films about her life and can easily be viewed on Amazon Prime or Netflix.
While Perucco did not mention Johnson’s connection to criminal activity or sex work, parents think it would have been easy to select an alternative LGBTQ figure with a more age-appropriate background, according to the letter.
The parent who sent the letter to the school board asked to remain anonymous due to concerns about retaliation from MCEE. The letter outlines the frustrations among parents who are disappointed that their objections were misrepresented.
The parent’s letter states, “Very few … had any issues with the diversity and welcoming all of any race, color, creed, or orientation in the classroom.”
Dymit said he will be more involved in determining the “age-appropriateness of content,” a comment MCEE took issue with.
The Daily Wire picked up the story when a parent who viewed the short presentation recorded the video and sent it to the conservative outlet.
The Daily Wire slammed Perucco for choosing someone who engaged in prostitution as his “person of the day” to share with middle schoolers. The outlet also noted that Perucco’s past videos have featured controversial, left-leaning figures like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Kamala Harris, Greta Thunberg, and “known communist” Angela Davis.