Tennessee Tech Punishes Student Groups Who Hosted Drag Performances
Two student groups at Tennessee Tech University are now facing an investigation after hosting a drag show at an on-campus theatre. On August 20th, local organization Upper Cumberland Pride and two university student groups, the Lambda Gay-Straight Alliance and the Tech Players, held a drag show at the university’s Backdoor Playhouse.
A clip from the show, featuring a child giving money to a drag performer lip-synching to “Take Me To Church,” was posted on Twitter on September 7th by anti-child trafficking activist Landon Starbuck.
“Tennessee Tech University hosted a drag show that had little kids handing cash to the drag queen who was performing a dance clearly meant to mock Christians,” tweeted Starbuck. “Every parent who pays to send their kids to @tennesseetech deserves to know that this is what they’re allowing on campus.”
The clip quickly garnered outrage, and Tennessee Tech’s administration burst into action, launching an investigation of the two clubs and unilaterally canceling two upcoming events from the organizations. Further, the clubs were suspended from hosting any further events during the duration of the investigation.
“I am disturbed and dismayed about the activities in a video circulating on social media from a recent event on Tennessee Tech’s campus,” wrote the university’s president, Phil Oldham, in a statement. “I do not feel the activities in the video represent Tech’s values, and I do not condone explicit activity where minors are present. I also am offended by disparaging mockery toward any religious group.”
Oldham added that on-campus “programming should not include obscene, lewd or explicit activities,” and that the investigation concerned “the inappropriate involvement of minors and a review of our policies and procedures.”
However, there is one hitch to Tennessee Tech’s plans—they have no legal authority to punish student organizations over a drag performance.
On September 15th, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression sent a letter to Tennessee Tech’s administration, informing the school that drag shows a
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