WTAMU President Cancels Drag Show, Argues That It’s “Demeaning to Women”
Hooo-boy. Seems like the latest hot-button issue here in town is.....*drum roll*.....Drag Shows.
Back in December, Amarillo had some serious turbulence (okay fine, drama) with the sticky little issue concerning an event scheduled at the Amarillo Civic Center. It was, of course, the Christmas Drag Show tour. In what now seems to be an eerie foreshadowing of recent events, Mayor Ginger Nelson sparked a controversial storm with her public statements regarding her thoughts and opinions of the upcoming drag show.
In the statements, she appeared to lament her inability to prevent the show from ever gracing the stage, citing city codes that regulate the equal access to a municipal event center as her main obstacle. As an alternative, she encouraged those who shared her religious secular views to appear outside the event and physically pray in the presence of any and all individuals who attended the performance.
Back in December, the Christmas Drag Show took the stage, dazzled, and awed--and then the city calmed down.....Till now.
This time, it's at WTAMU.
The public university president, Dr. Walter Wendler, recently sent a letter out to school's staff and students, informing them that he had made the executive decision to cancel a scheduled Drag Show that had been booked as part of a charity event for the Trevor Project.
A drag show was scheduled to take place on campus on Friday, March 31st. The show was a project by the WTAMU student group Spectrum. It was a benefit to raise money for The Trevor Project. The Trevor Project's mission is to end suicide among LGBTQ young people.
In the midst of planning Wendler, sent a letter explaining why the drag show will not take place. In the letter, he mentioned that all people were created in God's image and then went on to describe that a drag show is demeaning to women, and described a drag show as "misogynistic behavior portraying woman as objects".
Does a drag show preserve a single thread of human dignity? I think not. As a performance exaggerating aspects of womanhood (sexuality, femininity, gender), drag shows stereotype women in cartoon-like extremes for the amusement of others and discriminate against womanhood.
Dr. Wendler went on to talk about The Golden Rule and quoted Matthew 7:12, he also quoted Buddhism, Judaism, and Newton's Third Law of Motion.
Mocking or objectifying in any way member of any group based on appearance, bias, or predisposition is unacceptable. Forward-thinking women and men have worked together for nearly two centuries to eliminate sexism. Women have fought valiantly, seeing equality in the voting booth, marketplace, and court of public opinion. No one should claim a right to contribute to women's suffering via a slapstick sideshow that erodes the worth of women.
By sending this letter to the students? Did President Wendler violate the Texas State Senate Bill 18?
According to 08.99.99.W1 Expressive Activity on Campus, the law added Texas Education Code Section 51.935, which requires that each public institution of higher education “adopt a policy detailing student’s rights and responsibilities regarding expressive activities” on its campus.
According to Section 1.3: The university may not take action against a student organization or deny the organization any benefit generally available to other student organizations at the university on the basis of a political, religious, philosophical, ideological, or academic viewpoint expressed by the organization or of any expressive activities of the organization.
Does claiming a drag show as demeaning to women, create a loophole in this policy?
President Wendler's letter ended with, "Offering respect, not ridicule, is the order of the day for fair play and is the WT way. And equally important, it is the West Texas way."
Read Dr. Wendler's full letter here.
Protests are planned by WTAMU students on campus all week long.
A petition has been started regarding the cancellation of the event.