Supreme Court denies request by student group to host drag show at West Texas A&M University

ByJohn Fritze, CNN ABCNews logo
Friday, March 15, 2024
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The Supreme Court on Friday denied a request by a Texas college student group to host a drag show on campus, siding with the school's decision to prohibit the performance.

Spectrum WT and two student leaders of the LGBTQ group filed an emergency petition with the high court asking that it be allowed to put on the show at West Texas A&M University. The ban, the group claims, violates the First Amendment.

The brief order by the Supreme Court on Friday doesn't resolve the issue but means the group will not be able to put on the performance while the litigation continues. There were no noted dissents.

The litigation has been pending for nearly a year and was originally filed ahead of a scheduled drag performance last year, which was later moved off campus. This year, the group has scheduled the show for March 22.

More than 50 people gathered Tuesday, March 21, 2023, at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas, to protest the university president
More than 50 people gathered Tuesday, March 21, 2023, at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas, to protest the university president's decision to cancel a drag show on campus.
Michael Cuviello/Amarillo Globe-News/AP via CNN Newsource

The conservative 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in the case the week of April 29.

The university's president, Walter Wendler, had declined the group's request to host the event. According to court records, Wendler at the time described the performances as "exaggerating aspects of womanhood (sexuality, femininity, gender)," that, he said, "stereotype women in cartoon-like extremes for the amusement of others."

He also called the performance "derisive, divisive and demoralizing."

The group has described the event as "PG-13," allowing minors to attend if accompanied by a parent.

The aspect of minors attending the performance was one of the issues US District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk focused on in his ruling in favor of the university. Kacsmaryk, nominated by former President Donald Trump, ruled in September that the group did not have a First Amendment right to hold the performance on campus.

"When children are involved," Kacsmaryk wrote, "the calculation changes."

The 5th Circuit had declined to expedite review of the case, which prompted the students to file their emergency request at the Supreme Court.

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