(The Lion) — Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey is prepared to force out the school district officials who allowed young students to attend a drag show.
“Attorney General Bailey is examining all legal options and remains committed to the termination or resignation of any school official who knew that they were exposing children to an adult themed drag show,” Bailey’s spokesperson Madeline Sieren wrote in an email Monday to the Columbia Missourian.
The news comes after The Lion reported parents in the Columbia Public Schools (CPS) system were demanding explanations for how it happened without their knowledge.
“This is about protecting children,” Bailey told KCMO morning show host Pete Mundo on Tuesday. “And as long as I am attorney general, our schools are going to be about education, not indoctrination, and the parents are going to have a say in that process.”
CPS Superintendent Brian Yearwood denied the content of the performances was sexual.
“Although CPS was unaware what the performance by NClusion+ would entail, their program was not an ‘adult’ performance,” Yearwood wrote in an open letter to Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, district parents and staff, according to local ABC News 17. “This type of misrepresentation is harmful to our students, our staff, and our community.”
Parson had expressed concern via Twitter about what he characterized as “adult performers during what is historically a MLK Day celebration.”
“This is unacceptable,” Parson added.
It also was unacceptable to Tara Arnett, whose autistic child was at the CPS drag performance.
Arnett told The Lion that while she wasn’t there, she saw snippets of the performance on Twitter, and what she saw was most definitely sexual, including the district administrators who shoved dollar bills at the performers.
“The point of drag for kids is making an early introduction to drag. The drag that you see in entertainment for adults most definitely is sexual,” said Arnett.
“The only people who I know accept dollar bills while dancing do it provocatively,” added Arnett.
Bailey specifically cited Missouri statute 170.015, which he said mandates sex education be specifically tailored to be age appropriate and that parents must be notified about the curriculum so they can opt out their child.
In a prior letter sent to the school district, Bailey said a Missouri law that took effect in August also imposes criminal penalties on those who knowingly expose students to certain sexual content.
“Transporting students to a drag show likely runs afoul of this statute,” said Bailey in the letter.
Arnett said the superintendent was simply following “the party line” at the school district in his letter to the governor.
“The liberal base [at the school district] is very active. They’re very loud. And whether or not there’s an overwhelming majority, they’re the loudest and they get catered to,” concluded Arnett.
Calls by The Lion to district board members and the superintendent went mostly unanswered.
When asked by The Lion if it’s the board’s position that the parents don’t have a right to be notified about taking children to controversial performances such as the drag show, CPS board member Jeanne Snodgrass, reached by telephone, said she wasn’t allowed to speak about the incident.
“You’re going to have to speak to the district for a statement,” said Snodgrass. “Individual board members can’t speak for the entire board.”
When asked if she could speak just for herself, Snodgrass hung up.