A conservative West Texas university president has sparked praise and outrage for banning a drag event that was scheduled to be held on school property later this month, saying “drag shows denigrate and demean women.”

“West Texas A&M University will not host a drag show on campus,” WTAMU President Walter Wendler said in a March 20 email to students, faculty, and staff.

The canceled event promoted as “A Fool’s Drag Race” was scheduled to be held at the university’s Legacy Hall on March 31.

“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,” Wendler said.

“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.”

The drag event was advertised as a fundraiser for The Trevor Project, a controversial nonprofit focused on LGBTQ youth suicide prevention.

In addition to suicide counseling, The Trevor Project website also features information and advice about sexual orientation and gender identity, and hosts online chats between LGBTQ teens and adults ages 13-24.

The progressive organization has also teamed up with “RuPaul’s Drag Race” to oppose “anti-LGBTQ” legislation.

Last year, a mom looking for help for her child said she discovered a “Pandora’s box” of inappropriate content in The Trevor Project’s chat room—including adults pushing kids towards gender transitions, giving advice on how to hide transitions from parents, and describing sex acts and fetishes.

Sam Brinton—a self-identified nonbinary drag queen who was recently hired, then fired, as the Biden administration’s deputy secretary of nuclear waste—worked at The Trevor Project for four years and bragged about participating in kink relationships with men who pretend to be dogs.

WTAMU students have started competing petitions for and against Wendler’s drag show ban.

A pro-drag show petition calls Wendler’s statement “an indirect attack on the LGBT+, feminist, and activist communities of the WTAMU student body” that presents a “distorted and incorrect definition of drag as a culture and form of performance art.”

An anti-drag show petition started by Young Conservatives of Texas counters, “Because of Dr. Wendler’s statement, supporters of this degenerate event are outraged and seek to overturn the university’s decision to stand for what is right.” YCTWT encourages Wendler to “not be swayed by the angry voices of those who are opposed to the truth about drag shows.”

Wendler seems unlikely to budge. Earlier this month at a Texas Public Policy Foundation event, he described West Texas A&M as “the most conservative public university in the state.”

“A harmless drag show? Not possible,” Wendler said in his email. “I will not appear to condone the diminishment of any group at the expense of impertinent gestures toward another group for any reason, even when the law of the land appears to require it.”

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.