The University of San Diego’s decision to allow the Pride student group to host the Supreme Drag Superstar drag show on campus last year sharply divided students, donors and alumni.
The University is again allowing the event to take place. This year, Supreme Drag Superstar 2 takes place Thursday, April 25 at 7 p.m. in the campus’ largest auditorium, Shiley Theater. Again, the event has divided students and alumni. This year's event is being emceed by homosexual drag queen Manila Luzon, who has publicly advocated for same-sex "marriage" and was in a homosexual relationship with the late-Antoine Ashley, otherwise known as drag queen Sahara Davenport.
A group of students opposing the drag show have issued a formal statement asking the university to cancel the event.
“The drag show undermines the dignity of the human person by advancing an ideology that is contrary to the natural law, and ultimately perpetuates the deep wounds of gender confusion rather than bringing true healing,” said a statement from Concerned Catholic USD Students.
The University of San Diego is unquestionably being deceitful by identifying itself as a Catholic University, while permitting the acceptance and promotion of an ideology that is in direct contradiction to the Catholic moral teaching and social tradition. USD’s mission statement declares to potential parents and students that “The University of San Diego is a Roman Catholic institution…” and “embraces the Catholic moral and social tradition by its commitment to serve with compassion, to foster peace and to work for justice.” Catholic parents who send their children to a university that self-identifies and advertises itself as Catholic should be able to expect at least basic standards of decency and morality. As students, we are obligated to hold our school accountable to that statement, that commitment, which it has made to us the students, and which it is not fulfilling.
At last year’s campus drag show, those opposing the event prayed the Rosary outside while the event took place in the campus’ University Center Forums. An alumni group, Alumni for a Catholic USD, was also formed.
This year students have organized a prayer vigil in front of the Immaculata Church on the USD campus on Thursday, April 25 at 6:30 p.m. to pray in reparation during the event, and they have invited members of the community to join them.
While this year’s response is one of prayer, there’s also tremendous opposition to the event. Those who attended last year’s event say it has no place on a Catholic university campus.
“It’s a pep rally to undermine Church teaching,” said someone who asked to remain anonymous, who attended last year’s event. “It’s a forum to lead young people away from the teachings of the Church.”
Anticipating the negative response, the University released a statement ahead of the event. They are casting the show as “educational.”
Says the statement, from Carmen Vazquez, vice president of student affairs:
Similar to last year’s event, this show will be a combination of informative dialogue, campus resource offerings at information tables, and playful lip-synch performances designed both to raise awareness and understanding of the complex issues surrounding gender identity and expression, and to underscore the importance of mutual respect and the dignity of each individual.
The show as scheduled violates neither the university’s mission nor any university policies. The Celebration of Gender Expression supports the Church’s teaching on the dignity of the human person and does not promote either behavior or lifestyle that is contrary to the teachings of the Church.
USD supports its students in their journey and defends their right to plan and carry out events that conform to the rules uniformly applied to all approved student activities at the university.
In response to the outcry before last year’s drag show, University President Mary Lyons sent a letter to the University’s Trustees. She cited both California state law, and the fact that other Catholic universities have hosted drag shows, as reasons for the show.
The event is “intended to‘ foster students’ understanding of, and empathy for, the complexities of gender non-conformity,” wrote Lyons. Said her letter:
California state law AB887 (October 2011) and the subsequent inclusion of ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender expression’ in the university’s Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment have given rise to finding ways to heighten our students’ sensitivity and reinforce their respect for the individual.
…The Pride student organization planned events that have been quite common at other Catholic universities, including Santa Clara, DePaul, University of Seattle and others.
Openly lesbian USD Religious Studies professor Evelyn Kirkley, who serves as faculty adviser to the Pride group, justified the University drag show in a position paper. Kirkley wrote:
Because a drag show is entertaining, it can reach a wider audience of students who might not ordinarily attend a speaker or workshop… It enables students to become more educated and aware of the fluidity of gender identity and expression…Transgressing gender norms, such as cross-dressing, can trigger cultural anxieties, but can also be seen as entirely ‘normal.’
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