COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
An annual event hosted by the City of Columbia since 1994 has faced criticism for hosting LGBTQIA+ groups featuring drag queens. three.
Nclusion Plus was created at the end of the Columbia Values Diversity celebration after keynote speaker Renee Montgomery. The event is an annual celebration of diversity based on the holiday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which was held last week.
Columbia Public Schools invited students to participate in the event, according to parents posted on websites such as Facebook. Parents were required to fill out a consent form. Copies of the slide have been posted on social media.
ABC 17 News is working to obtain a copy of the list.
Columbia Mayor Barbara Buffaloe attended the event and took to Twitter to post photos with the performers.
We would like to thank the planning committee of Thursday’s Columbia Values Diversity celebration. We appreciate the thought put into organizing an event that showcases and promotes the diversity of our community. 🧵 1/7 pic.twitter.com/8ZRLzwVF7V
— Mayor Barbara Buffaloe (@BarbaraBuffaloe) January 20, 2023
“We want to thank the planning committee of Thursday’s Columbia Values Diversity celebration,” said Buffaloe. “We appreciate the thoughtfulness that went into organizing an event that showcases and promotes the diversity of our community.”
Buffaloe said the event ended with an “exciting and energetic performance” from Nclusion plus.
“Drag is a traditional art form with a long and fulfilling history and encourages self-expression,” Buffaloe said. “Like the hate crimes against drag shows and entertainers that are happening in other communities we want to reaffirm that Columbia is a community that supports all.”
Columbia Public Schools did not immediately respond to a request for more information about the incident.
Republican State Sen. Caleb Rowden said his office was “inundated with phone calls and emails.”
My office has been flooded with calls and emails saying: middle schoolers forced to sit through a drag show this morning #It’s like Breakfast buffet. We have heard from parents whose children attended that they were definitely not happy. 1/3 #MOLOG https://t.co/DQT72a8Z0I
— Caleb Rowden (@calebrowden) January 20, 2023
Rowden said he has requested a meeting with the superintendent of CPS and members of the Columbia Board of Education. Rowden said he would like to hear the process that led to this incident, and to “gather information to determine what next steps should be taken in terms of the law.”
“I will use every resource at my disposal to stand up for children and their parents, especially in times when they don’t feel their voices are being heard,” Rowden said.
The Gov. Mike Parson and Attorney General Andrew Bailey, both Republicans, also gave their opinion on what happened in the comments.
We are deeply concerned about reports that Columbia University students exposed themselves to adults during the historic MLK Day celebration. This is not acceptable.
– Governor Mike Parson (@GovParsonMO) January 20, 2023
“We are deeply concerned about the reports that Columbia University students gave to adults during the historic MLK Day celebration. This is unacceptable,” Parson wrote.
“To show a three-song, 830am drag set of ‘adults’ is very dangerous. You know what you are doing here and that, my father, is unacceptable,” he wrote said Columbia City Councilwoman Andrea Waner in a now-deleted tweet. replied Parson.
Bailey said in a news release that he was write a letter to the principal of the school said that taking children to the event may violate the state’s law prohibiting the provision of sexual material to children.
Drag racing has become a divisive issue, with Republicans and conservatives alike criticizing events that show drag shows catering to children. The issue is part of a broader culture war that includes battles over other LGBTQ issues, including how transgender student-athletes compete.
The Arkansas Senate committee approved on Thursday a bill to limit towing performance.
Tara Arnett was one of the parents who missed the show.
“Mistakes happen. We learn from them, we grow from them,” Arnett said. “But we can’t learn and grow from them if we don’t acknowledge what happened or take responsibility for what happened.”
Arnett’s autistic son is in eighth grade. Arnett said special arrangements were made so her son could attend. He did not receive a letter of authorization, but he said that he is still in contact with the school to make appropriate arrangements for his son.
“I started getting wind from other parents in the morning from their students who attended the event and what was going on,” Arnett said. “I wasn’t happy about getting this because I had no control over it, it wasn’t something we agreed upon as parents.”
Arnett said her son expresses himself by reenacting what he sees on television. He said he tries to observe what he sees.
Our Project Director Valerie Berta joined on Thursday. He thought it was a happy family. The program aims to expand marginalized communities through stories.
Berta thinks the backlash the event has received is terrifying.
“As Mayor Barbara Buffalo said, it’s a very important thing to do, to emphasize the fact that here in Columbia and Missouri, we value diversity, we value the inclusion of all of our humanity, ” said Berta. “Especially I think, in the face of attacks, sometimes very violent, physical and there is a real danger involved in spreading those stories.
CPS has provided information
Columbia Public Schools spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark emailed a statement to ABC 17 News. The statement can be read – in its entirety – below:
“Thank you for reaching out. We really appreciate the opportunity and the offer to give us a voice. I hope you are also contacting the private and parochial schools that had students at the event. share with others as well as some additional information.
The City of Columbia ranked 30thth Annual Columbia Values Diversity Breakfast Thursday morning. The event is presented and organized by the City of Columbia. Individuals from Columbia Public Schools were among the 1,000+ participants in the event. Participants are not provided with event specifics prior to the event. This is a wonderful event dedicated to celebrating the life and teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. and individuals from the district have participated every year since its inception. The district is also honored to be part of the coordination and participation in the students’ writing section of the commemoration ceremony, which we have been doing for many years.
The event included the singing of our National Anthem, an invocation by Columbia religious leaders, a display of student writings on various topics, a discussion of Columbia’s journey to excellence by Mayor Barbara Buffaloe, and presenting awards. Renee Montgomery is a former WNBA superstar, and her speech was sponsored by the University of Missouri Athletics. The last part is 15 minutes of dancing and singing by “NClusion +.”
About 30 Columbia Public Schools students participated in the event. There were also students from private schools and schools of our community who participated. Of the CPS students who participated, the district received 2 complaints from the parents of the children who participated in the event. We communicated directly with those parents about their concerns.
The district has also received many communications from parents who do not have students at this event, individuals who do not have children enrolled in CPS, and individuals who do not live in our community.
We continue to focus on the purpose of the celebration of the City of Columbia, which for 30 years of celebrating our diversity and honoring those in our community whose work reflects life and education a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in promoting self-respect, equality, understanding, peace, and solving problems through non-violence.
Check back for updates on this developing story.