Earlier this month, drag performers Nclusion Plus staged a musical performance at the annual Columbia Values Diversity Breakfast. About 30 middle school students from Columbia Public Schools were among the 1,000 attendees.
Missouri Attorney General Bailey later sent letters to Columbia Public Schools alleging that the district had violated Missouri state laws that make it a crime to share “sexually explicit” material with young students.
But Nclusion Plus chief marketing officer Brandon Banks recently told the Missouri Independent that the performance was a “G-rated” experience and that there was no explicit material in the performance.
“The approach we took for the songs, when we told entertainers, was to offer something positive, uplifting, a song that is suitable for a general family audience,” said Banks.
Nclusion Plus regularly hosts drag shows in Columbia, Kansas City and St. Louis and advertises that it “provides a safe and valuable place for members to feel at home and be connected with fellow members of the LGBTQIA+ community.”
Bailey doubled down on his bout against drag performance on KCUR’s Up To Date on Tuesday.
“It doesn’t matter if it was rated G, PG-13, R, or X. The drag show itself is an outward expression of a desired inner sexuality,” Bailey said. “And it emphasizes sexual characteristics that appeal to the prurient interest. It’s inherently sexual. It teaches human sexuality.”
Columbia Public Schools Superintendent Brian Yearwood echoed Nclusion Plus’s response in a letter to Governor Mike Parson last week, decrying “an unfortunate amount of misinformation being shared outside of our community” regarding the performance.
“Any characterizations of the ‘Columbia Values Diversity’ breakfast as ‘dangerous to children’ or having a ‘sexual nature’ or violation of state law are categorically false,” the letter read. “Although CPS was unaware of what NClusion+’s performance would entail, their program was not an ‘adult’ performance. This type of misrepresentation is harmful to our students, our staff and our community.”
Despite the pushback, Bailey says “all legal options are on the table.”