After a video depicting children participating in an on-campus drag show was widely shared around the internet, Tennessee Tech University President Phil Oldham said he was offended, and that the school is investigating.
The video was first posted to Twitter by Landon Starbuck, wife of former Tennessee congressional candidate Robby 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,” she said. “Every parent who pays to send their kids to [Tennessee Tech] deserves to know that this is what they’re allowing on campus.”
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. Every parent who pays to send their kids to @tennesseetech deserves to know that this is what they’re allowing on campus. pic.twitter.com/Q4I9uR2tcT
— Landon Starbuck (@LandonStarbuck) September 7, 2022
Starbuck later encouraged her followers to send a respectful email to Oldham to express their discontent with the event.
Facing pushback, Oldham responded with a lengthy statement:
I am disturbed and dismayed about the activities in a video circulating on social media from a recent event on Tennessee Tech’s campus.
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.
To be clear, this was not a university sponsored event. No university funds were used. Two registered student groups facilitated the scheduling and promotion of the event. Although registered student organizations have the ability to reserve space on campus, the programming should not include obscene, lewd or explicit activities.
The university is investigating the activities that took place at this event and the circumstances surrounding its scheduling and promotion. As of now, all public events scheduled on campus by these sponsoring organizations are cancelled pending a review.
All students, faculty and staff deserve care and consideration, as well as representation and respect. The investigation focuses on the inappropriate involvement of minors and a review of our policies and procedures.
According to the Catholic News Agency, Catholic League President Bill Donahue wrote to Oldham, noting that the on-campus space where the event was held is, by the university’s description, one for “professionalism.”
“Backstage Playhouse bills itself as an organization that fosters ‘creativity, critical thinking, excellence, and professionalism through the integration of courses, productions, workshops, and other activities,’” Donohue said in the letter. “Why, then, would it be home to an anti-Catholic event?”
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