Pageant at local school canceled after parents voice concern

by: Natalie Pasquarella Updated:

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INDIAN LAND, S.C. —

Angry parents decided to band together after finding out a beauty pageant was planned for their children's school.

One parent at Indian Land Elementary told Eyewitness News that he didn't think the event was sending the right message.

The group used social media to get it canceled.

Parent Dave Dodson launched a Facebook page urging other parents to speak out against the event for students who attended Indian Land Elementary.

"We started a Facebook page to gauge how many people were really upset about this, and it became pretty obvious, I think within three hours, we got about 100 likes," Dodson said.

Dodson told Channel 9 he was shocked to find a flier in three of his children's backpacks advertising the inaugural Indian Land Elementary Warrior School Pageant.

The flier reads "Contestants will be judged on facial beauty, personality and overall appeal," with awards for "best eyes, best hair, best smile."

"We try to teach our children that there's much more than someone's outside appearance," Dodson said. I think that kids get enough pressure today to look a certain way, to act a certain way, without bringing something like this in, that is being promoted and is tied to the school, I don't think that's right."

A representative from Lancaster County schools said the district was not involved in the pageant.

"The district doesn't sanction this, did not organize it, none of that," said David Knight with the school district. "All we do is what we usually do when a community event is going on for kids, we try to help publicize it by sending out fliers."

Knight added that it's up to the principal to look at the fliers that go home for community events and she admitted she didn't catch this one.

"I think the principal probably will look more closely, but we've been doing this for 25 years, so you know, I don't think you change what you do for one problem," Knight said.

Eyewitness News spoke with one of the organizers of the event. Tracy Hyland said she and another organizer decided to cancel because of negative feedback from the community.

She said she didn't feel the pageant was any different than when children competed in dance or sports.