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Catholic college cancels annual drag show — and some students aren't happy: 'Having that taken away from us is so diminishing'

Catholic college cancels annual drag show — and some students aren't happy: 'Having that taken away from us is so diminishing'

Student newspaper column against drag show sparked controversy last year

A Catholic college in Ohio has canceled its annual drag show after a student newspaper column against the event sparked controversy last year, Cleveland.com reported.

A John Carroll University spokesman told the outlet that "divisiveness" on the Jesuit school's campus led to the decision.

"We are working with our students on new and more extensive programming that will promote the expression, appreciation, and understanding of the many identities represented at John Carroll University," the spokesman said. "We are also engaging with community partners, alumni, and experts to advance the understanding of different points of view related to sexuality, faith, inclusion and respect."

What did the column say?

"I can't help but wonder who thought it would be a good idea to hire grown men to dress up as women on a Catholic campus for the deviant entertainment of misguided young people," Declan Leary's piece in the Carroll News noted last October.

After his piece ran, Leary said he was harassed over his words, charged with "hate speech" by "progressive" students, and summoned to meetings with school officials.

Leary told the College Fix that "progressive students who have the support of the institutional power here have been very aggressively calling for me to be silenced and attempting to discredit me and my writing. Their message is essentially that my column is hate speech because it attacks their beliefs, and that the university should not allow someone like me to speak out."

The Fix added that Leary provided nearly a dozen letters the Carroll News received over his column, a number of which accused the author of promoting "hate" or "hate speech."

The newspaper stood by Leary's column, calling the matter a "free speech" issue, Cleveland.com said.

Some students angry over drag show cancellation

Senior Leah VanDine — vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion on JCU's student government — told Cleveland.com she disagrees with cancelling the drag show, calling it a longstanding major cultural event on campus.

The show began in 2013, the outlet said.

"Having that taken away from us is so diminishing. It makes us feel ... like we're not welcome on campus," she told Cleveland.com. "All of these other organizations are allowed to put on whatever fun events they want, and no one gets harassed for it. No one gets an op-ed written about it."

School alumni and drag performers also criticized the decision, the outlet said. VanDine added to Cleveland.com that students are looking into protesting the cancellation, but she wouldn't share specifics over threats of violent counterprotests.

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Dave Urbanski

Dave Urbanski

Sr. Editor, News

Dave Urbanski is a senior editor for Blaze News.
@DaveVUrbanski →