Drag queens entertained primary school children on World Book Day in a performance designed to teach tolerance around LGBT issues.
Pupils at Parsons Street Primary School in Bedminster, Bristol, shrieked with laughter during the storytelling sessions and joined in enthusiastically with singalongs.
Head teacher Jamie Barry invited entertainers from Drag Queen Story Time to come to the school, prompting outcry from some parents but emails of support from others, including many who came along to watch.
The organisation, which uses specially-written stories to capture “the imagination and gender fluidity of childhood”, has performed in front of audiences all over the country.
The 461 pupils, aged from three to 11 years old, were captivated by the comedic tales, including one about a dog who wanted to be a frog, and another about a princess who did not want to get married.
Mum-of-two Fay Passey, 42, said: “I think the lessons about diversity and inclusivity are really important for primary school children to learn.
“I think a lot of bullying stems from being different – if you are a boy and you want to wear a dress, that should be OK.
“I think children should be brought up to accept that people are different.
“If they have been to a pantomime they will have seen something similar.”
Education worker Rachael James, 42, came into school with her children Carys, seven, and Gethin, five, to watch the show.
She said: “I think with young minds they just see their friends for who they are.
“Misconceptions only grow as they get older, with prejudice.
“You want your children to grow into kind and respectful human beings.
“If Drag Queen Story Time can help teach that, then that’s great.
“The people who are up in arms have this preconceived idea of what a drag queen is, that it’s adult entertainment full of sexual innuendos.
“If it’s 11pm in a pub then that is probably what you get, but this is a primary school and any performer knows to tailor to their audience.”
Angela Luscott, 45, praised the opportunities the school children got to experience things they might normally get to see.
“Anything that makes the children proud of who they are, and want to act or read out loud, anything that builds their confidence is perfect,” she said.
“The whole point is not to pass on prejudice to the next generation.”
Her children Eddie, aged eight, and Charlotte, aged five, had recently taken part in an after-school ballet workshop after Mr Barry invited professional dancers to come to the school.
The single mum said: “I’m sad that the people who complained can’t see the fun in it.
“Quite a few of us sent in emails of support.”