Photographs have come to light which show a drag performance by Fenella Beach at the Queen Elizabeth 2 School (QE2) in Peel, Isle of Man. In addition to saying there was dancing and poetry, the QE2 school says that the then-headteacher of the school, Ms Sue Moore, spoke at the event. The QE2 school reports the event took place on 12 July, 2021 in the school atrium during lunchtime.

Fenella Beach (also known as Owen Atkinson) is a self-described “queer trans drag artist” and previously attracted public attention for protesting against uniformed police personnel attending an Isle of Pride event in August 2022. In a statement after the event, Fenella Beach said, “We are two openly queer transgender people, and simply existing on this island comes with fears and experiences that a cis straight person would never understand. The board of Isle of Pride is predominantly cisgender and heterosexual, so they should not speak for a community that they do not represent.”

Minister claims no “drag queen”, saying “drag artist” spoke in September 2022

On Tuesday 21 March 2023, the Isle of Man Education Minister Julie Edge denied that a drag queen attended the school in September 2022, claiming that only a “drag artist” attended a class. In Edge’s speech to Tynwald, the parliament of the Isle of Man, she revealed that she had failed to read the full investigator’s report despite her department having received the report the previous week.

Edge’s carefully-worded statement to Tynwald claimed that there was no drag performance at the school, but limited this denial to September 2022. Many listeners may have been mistakenly tricked by Edge into thinking that there were no drag performances at the QE2 school at any time.

Photographs and school reports show drag queen performance at school in July 2021

The photographs and reports shared here which confirm the drag performance at QE2 school were originally released by the school itself. As of 5 May 2023, the photographs and reports were still being made available by the school on its own public-facing website. The school has also published photographs of artwork related to the event.

Digitally edited to obscure the face of the person in the background. QE2 school originally published the photograph, unedited.

In the article published with no by-line, the school claims that “approximately eighty students attended” the event at QE2, and the school has publicly revealed the name of one student who performed on the day[efn_note]Note: While the QE2 school has named and publicly identified a student who it says performed on the day, and appears to have published a photo of that person, I have chosen not to do so.[/efn_note].

According to the report from the QE2 school, students saw “the poetry of drag king Vincent Finery and the dancing of drag queen Fenella Beach.”

The photographs published by the QE2 school appear likely to have been cropped. A request to obtain the full records of all photographs of the event was lodged with the Department of Education, Sport and Culture in March, but on Friday 5 May, the Government declined to provide any records of further images, or the cropped parts of the published images.

There is no allegation of wrong-doing by the school, but these photographs prove that the Minister’s denial to Tynwald in March was a carefully-worded and mealy-mouthed description of some of the facts.

Source Document

As of 5 May 2023, the QE2 school was publishing the full and unedited document confirming the drag performances. This document identifies at least one student, but I do not think it is appropriate to identify school students in this manner. Consequently, I have chosen not to publish the underlying document – beyond the photograph extracts and quotes above – at this time.

Michael Josem is a long-term consumer advocate, most prominently as a global leader in combating fraud in the online gambling industry. He was in part the inspiration for the 20th Century Fox Movie, Runner Runner, starring Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake.

Josem has over a decade of experience as a senior business leader working across various high-tech and online industries, and takes action to build a better community. His primary volunteer roles include service for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and Graih, the homelessness charity.