FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL—Missouri’s attorney general sent a letter to the state’s association of school boards, urging it to adopt a resolution mandating that parents and guardians receive advance notice and the ability to opt their children out of sexual instruction, following news that a middle school took students to a drag show without notifying parents of the sexual nature of the event.
“I want Missouri to be the safest state in the nation for children, which includes preventing school officials from taking schoolchildren to drag shows,” Andrew Bailey, the state’s attorney general, said in a statement on the letter, first provided to The Daily Signal. “That’s why I am asking the Missouri School Board Association to call on their members to adopt a resolution pledging to uphold Missouri law on what can be taught regarding human sexuality in schools.”
“My office will use every tool at our disposal to ensure Missouri children are educated, not indoctrinated, and that parents have a say in the process,” Bailey, a Republican, added.
Bailey’s letter points to Missouri state law on human sexuality instruction and states that “adherence to the law is particularly important in the wake of recent events in which Columbia Public Schools took a group of middle school students to an event that featured a drag show performance.”
“Drag shows are inherently sexualized performances,” Bailey argues. “they are an outward expression of a desired sexuality and sexual identity. They are intended to draw attention to human sexuality in a manner that appeals to prurient interests. Drag shows have no educational value and no place in our public schools.”
Under the law, Bailey wrote:
School districts are required to, among other things, ‘ensure that all instruction in human sexuality is appropriate to the age of the students receiving such instruction.’ Moreover, school districts are charged with school boards are charged with making sure parents are kept informed and notified of the ‘basic content of the district’s or school’s human sexuality instruction to be provided to the student,’ and of their right, ‘to remove the student from any part of [such] … instruction.’
Bailey’s proposed resolution states that board members “affirm that no student under the care, custody and control of this district shall participate in programs, or receive instruction concerning human sexuality unless such programs or instruction comfort fully with section 170.015 RSMo., including, but not limited to, subsections four (4) and five (5) requiring that material be age appropriate, and that parents and guardians be given notice and the opportunity to opt their students out of such instruction or activity.”
Bailey’s office previously told The Daily Signal that it is considering legal action after students at Smithton Middle School attended a drag show at the Columbia Values Diversity Celebration earlier this month. Parents received a permission slip regarding the celebration, but the permission slip did not mention the drag show or give any indication that the event would include anything of a sexual nature.
Tara Arnett, the mother of an autistic son who attended the drag show, told The Daily Signal that the school gave “no notice that a drag show would be there.”
“I’ve been to the event before and it’s typically culturally focused entertainment. Didn’t even think to look that the entertainment would be kid-appropriate,” she said. “My son has severe autism and isn’t verbal. I can’t discuss with him anything he saw or how that relates to our family’s values. He also communicates through mimicked behavior. These are reasons I would not OK his attendance if I had known.”
Bailey and Missouri Gov. Michael Parson, a Republican, sent letters to Columbia Schools Superintendent Brian Yearwood, demanding answers about the drag show and the parental permission slips.
Yearwood responded with a letter claiming to counteract “misinformation” about the event. He wrote that the claim of the event “having a ‘sexual nature’ or violating state law is categorically false.” He claimed that the school district did not know about the drag performance, put on by NClusion+, but claimed that “their program was not an ‘adult’ performance.”
“I think by its nature, drag is adult,” Arnett told The Daily Signal. “Sure—if you put an evening gown on a stripper from the local cabaret and she doesn’t take it off for the show but you give her dollar bills—it may not have been physically explicit—but it’s still a desensitizing of the art form.”
Yearwood did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment on the issue.
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