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Supreme Court declines to lift ban on Texas college campus drag show

By 37ci3 Mar15,2024

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Friday rejected a request by an LGBTQ student group seeking to host a “PG-13” drag show on the West Texas A&M University campus over administrators’ objections.

The court order, contained in a brief unsigned ruling, means the band Spectrum WT likely won’t be able to hold an event on March 22 at an on-campus facility.

Dissenting voices were not recorded and the court did not explain the decision.

University President Walter Wendler blocked a similar event last year, describing drag shows as “ridiculous, divisive and demoralizing.”

West Texas A&M is a public college in the Panhandle region of the state. Wendler talked about wanting the university to reflect that conservative Christian values of the area.

The LGBTQ group says it violates its members’ First Amendment rights to free speech, pointing to university policies that bar administrators from facilities based on political, religious or ideological views.

The facility in question, Legacy Hall, is a performance space previously used for drag shows, beauty pageants and concerts, the plaintiffs said.

The dispute arose last year when Spectrum blocked WT’s plans to host a similar event. Organizers said the plan was to show support for the LGBTQ community with an event that would not include lewd or profane activity. They said the performances would be aimed at an audience of people at least 13 years old.

Wendler later told the university it would not host drag shows, saying they stereotyped women. He added that there is no such thing as a “harmless drag show.”

Spectrum WT filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction and, failing that, moved the event off campus. The group is represented by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, which supports free speech on college campuses.

Attention then turned to this year’s event, with Spectrum WT renewing its command request. In its defense, the university argued that drag shows are not expressive activities, meaning they are not a violation of free speech.

In September, US District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk denied the request for a restraining order. The plaintiffs appealed to the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, but the court has yet to act.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who represents college officials, said in court filings that the university already has a policy prohibiting “disruptive, lewd or inappropriate” behavior and that it “may violate drag shows by celebrating behavior that causes many to feel humiliated and humiliated.” . objectified”.

Paxton also said the plaintiffs waited too long to intervene before the Supreme Court.

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By 37ci3

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