Amid a lengthy legal battle between students wanting to host a drag show on campus and West Texas A&M University’s President Walter Wendler canceling it, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that the president is allowed to stop the event from taking place. 

On Friday, SCOTUS denied the student group’s emergency petition to intervene in the case so they could proceed with hosting the drag show on the university’s campus, located in Canyon. 

“The application for writ of injunction pending appeal presented to Justice Alito and by him referred to the Court is denied,” stated the Court. 

Last year, a WTAMU LGBT organization, Spectrum WT, planned to host a drag show called “A Fool’s Drag Race,” which was advertised as “PG-13” and a fundraiser for The Trevor Project—a controversial nonprofit focused on LGBTQ youth suicide prevention.

Wendler condemned the event, saying that drag shows discriminate against womanhood. 

“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,” said Wendler. “Drag shows are derisive, divisive and demoralizing misogyny, no matter the stated intent. Such conduct runs counter to the purpose of WT,” he added, comparing drag shows to “blackface.”

Spectrum WT and two of the group’s student leaders filed a lawsuit against Wendler, WTAMU’s Vice President for Student Affairs Christopher Thomas, Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp, and several members of the university system’s Board of Regents.

Spectrum WT claimed Wendler was violating their First Amendment rights, stating in their lawsuit that “as a public official, he cannot bar Spectrum WT and its members from exercising their First Amendment rights merely because he believes his personal opinions override the Constitution.”

Federal Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk later ruled that Wendler did not violate the First Amendment and that his decision to cancel the show was not “objectively unreasonable.”

The group, represented by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, appealed the decision. 

While SCOTUS has denied the students’ petition to intervene, the case is set to be heard at the New Orleans-based U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in late April. 

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is defending Wendler’s decision to cancel the event, said that he is pleased with SCOTUS refusing to intervene. 

“President Wendler’s efforts to uphold decency and protect women from hostile and degrading caricatures, and to protect children from exposure to obscene conduct, are completely defensible,” said Paxton. “I’m pleased that a unanimous SCOTUS rejected the organization’s extraordinary attempt to force the University to host this activity.”

Emily Medeiros

Emily graduated from the University of Oklahoma majoring in Journalism. She is excited to use her research and writing skills to report on important issues around Texas.