BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — A drag show featuring males impersonating females at South Dakota State University tonight has prompted an apology from SDSU President Barry Dunn.
Dunn issued the statement Tuesday in response to criticism about the event, which is described on the university’s website as “kid friendly” and encourages tipping of the performers.
“We apologize for the miscommunication pertaining to the drag show in the University Student Union (Wednesday) night,” Dunn said. “The sponsor of this event is the Gender and Sexualities Alliance student organization, and not South Dakota State University or its Office of Multicultural Affairs.”
The Gender and Sexualities Alliance is one of the campus groups recognized by the Office of Multicultural Affairs, which is listed on the university website as the sponsor.
Dunn continued, “Registered student organizations are free to sponsor lawful events on campus in accordance with SDCL 13-53-52 and applicable policy. This event is being put on by the GSA student group and not supported by university funds.”
A state lawmaker meanwhile posted on Twitter the message he sent to Dunn.
“Mr. President, this is a completely inappropriate thing to expose children to, and use of taxpayer funds or resources for this event is not appropriate,” Representative Jon Hansen, R-Dell Rapids, wrote. “I’m urging you to use your authority to protect children from being invited or permitted to attend to this event.”
A recently elected legislative candidate reacted on Twitter to Hansen’s response.
“I was very involved with @AugustanaSD‘s GSA during my time at college and I know how important GSAs are to supporting LGBTQ and Two Spirit students and also creating an environment in which they can thrive,” wrote Representative-elect Kadyn Wittman, D-Sioux Falls.
“Recently, some individuals in the legislature are trying to shut down GSA club events (like drag shows). As a state representative, I will always support LGBTQ students and fight to ensure the government is not infringing on their rights to free speech and free association,” Wittman continued. “Which, by the way, is a right that belongs to all students and student clubs. Free speech is for everyone – not just the people I agree with.”
A Rapid City-based group, Family Heritage Alliance, urged people to get the show halted by calling Dunn’s office or the state Board of Regents, whose members oversee South Dakota’s public universities.
“We can longer afford to be silent. It’s up to parents to protect their children and stop events like this. If parents band together and cause enough backlash, the hosts of these events may be forced to cancel them, as we’ve seen in other states,” FHA’s executive director Norman Woods wrote.