Missouri AG pressures schools to ban drag performances
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey put pressure Tuesday on school boards to adopt resolutions banning drag performances where students are present.
The letter issued Tuesday is the latest related to a drag performance at a diversity breakfast in Columbia.
This time, Bailey wrote to the Missouri School Board Association. MSBA is a private, not-for-profit organization that helps with school board member training, policies, legal assistance, superintendent search guidance and other services, according to its website.
Bailey asked MSBA in the letter to encourage its member schools to adopt a resolution to ban drag shows where students are in attendance. He also references the Columbia diversity breakfast in the letter.
“Adherence to the law is particularly important in the wake of recent events in which Columbia Public Schools took a group of middle school students to an event that featured a drag show performance,” Bailey wrote. “Drag shows are inherently sexualized performances. They are an outward expression of a desired sexuality and sexual identity. They are intended to draw attention to human sexuality in a manner that appeals to prurient interests. Drag shows have no educational value and have no place in our public schools."
Bailey previously wrote two letters to Columbia Public Schools detailing his displeasure with the drag performance that took place on Jan. 20. His letters used similar points to his letter on Tuesday.
He joined several other Republican lawmakers, including Gov. Mike Parson and state Sen. Caleb Rowden, in pointed criticism of the district.
CPS Superintendent Brian Yearwood sent a letter on Jan. 22 in response to the backlash, saying it is a misconception that the performance was grooming the students in attendance or adult in nature.
"Although CPS was unaware what the performance by NClusion+ would entail, their program was not an 'adult' performance," Yearwood wrote. "This type of misrepresentation is harmful to our students, our staff, and our community."
Nclusion Plus – the group who had performers in drag at the Columbia Values Diversity breakfast – said the performance was family-friendly.
"We provide a safe experience of self-expression and creative performance that infringed upon no less moral grounds than a theater department in a school would do," a spokesperson for the group wrote on social media. "While families are welcome to manage their personal conversations and expectations of expression related to their children, we see that as more of a direct conversation to be had between parents, their children and the school system."
The statement by Nclusion Plus said the performers wore modest costumes, avoided any vulgar language, didn't feature any suggestive themes, kept all costuming intact without flaunt or removal and that the performers were told to select songs that had motivational, heartfelt or positive lyrics.
About 30 Columbia Public Schools students attended the event, according to CPS spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark. Parents were required to fill out a permission slip.