Texas Christian University is facing an outcry over its course on the “art of drag,” an elective that requires students to create their own “drag persona” and explores how such performances contribute to “queer world making.”
Students enrolled in “The Queer Art of Drag,” offered by the Department of Women & Gender Studies, must choose a name and “drag greeting” for their “drag persona,” as well as develop a “lip-sync portfolio” and produce a performance video for the TCU Annual Night of Drag.
The course, which also delves into the history of drag in “challenging dominant norms and systems of oppression,” is taught by Nino Testa, whose drag name is “Maria von Clapp.”
The final four-page paper “on the entire process of developing your drag persona” should be written in “the voice of your drag persona.”
“This class has been generously funded by an Inclusive Excellence Grant from the Office of Diversity & Inclusion,” the spring 2023 syllabus said.
TCU has offered the class since at least 2021, according to Texas Scorecard, but the specter of a university affiliated with a Christian denomination promoting drag queens drew pushback after Campus Reform drew attention to the course in a June 15 post.
“HOT TAKE: Christian schools shouldn’t have classes on drag,” tweeted the conservative Texas Family Project.
“There are students going into debt to attend TCU and take a class that requires them to put on drag shows,” the group said. “Let that sink in.”
Drag queens have become a cultural flashpoint as men dressed in outlandish female costumes, once the province of adult cabaret clubs, increasingly interact with children at schools, libraries and family-friendly venues in the name of promoting inclusion.
The conservative Media Research Center declared that “TCU might as well drop Christian from their name if they are going to be offering ‘Queer Art of Drag’ classes.”
TCU is affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), a left-tilting mainline denomination that added in 2013 “sexual orientation and gender identity” to its list of affirmed categories with the goal of creating “welcoming and affirming congregations,” as per the Human Rights Campaign.
Since then, the church’s membership has plummeted from about 639,500 to 350,000, making it the “fastest declining church” in the mainline Protestant denominations, according to Juicy Ecumenism, a blog of the Institute on Religion & Democracy.
TCU might as well drop Christian from their name if they are going to be offering “Queer Art of Drag” classes.
— MRCTV (@mrctv) June 20, 2023
“This type of content is becoming standard fare at formerly/nominally Christian colleges,” tweeted Thomas S. Kidd, professor at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri.
One self-identified TCU alumnus said they would stop donating to the university after learning about the drag class.
“Thus ends my alumni donations to @TCU as of today,” tweeted @sanden. “I won’t support the indoctrination of young adults and children by crossdressers.”
TCU, a private research university with an enrollment of about 10,500, has not commented publicly on the class.
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