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  • Caitlyn Burge-Surles

Austin ISD Spent More Than $8k To Take Students to Pride Parade

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A public information request released by The Texas Public Policy Foundation revealed that Austin ISD spent more than $8,000 on bussing, outfitting, and guarding student attendance at Austin’s August 12 Pride Parade.


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James Quinter, TPPF’s Policy Director, requested information regarding Austin ISD’s financial involvement in Austin’s annual pride festival and parade after Austin ISD published an invite to the event for students and their families on their website, including free shuttles to and from the festival.


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Austin ISD responded with a list of the expenses incurred by sponsoring the event for their students. The expenditures included shirts, parade entry fees, AISD PD staffing, and shuttles. Austin ISD’s financial department added that none of the funds for the pride festival were from taxpayers. Austin ISD PD did not offer up documents.


In a statement to Dallas Express, Quintero said “My understanding is that Austin ISD PD [is] funded through Internal Service Fund accounts, of which the overtime account is one, and operates using public money.”


Quintero also shared concerns in his report on TPPF that regardless of whether the funds for the festival came from private sector donations, resources of organization and personnel were still being allocated to this event through the school district.


Austin ISD celebrated pride earlier this year in late March, when they hosted pride week in school with a variety of daily events and activities to commemorate National LGBT Health Awareness Week. When asked about this event, Principal Eliza Layola of Menchaca Elementary School told KXAN Austin that she found recent Texas legislation against transitioning minors “terrifying.”


Texas Family Project tweeted in response to Austin ISD’s support of the pride festival, “Remember this next time your child's teachers are asking for classroom materials.” TFP also shared a video of a group of young male attendees dressed in thongs at the pride festival, tweeting “Remember, this is just a small glimpse of what was happening at the festival @AustinISD recruited children to attend.”


The Austin pride festival was free for children under 6 and featured drag entertainers Cupcake and Lady Grackle (pictured here) as hosts. Cupcake and Lady Grackle are known for regularly hosting a local event called “Dirty Bingo.”


Austin ISD has not responded to outrage over the event. However, Austin ISD school board trustee David Kaufmann tweeted “So much pride, love, acceptance & appreciation in our @AustinISD & ATX community!” along with a video of students marching in the parade with a pride banner.




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