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Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey (left) speaks to St. Louis Public Radio political correspondent Jason Rosenbaum at the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City on January 18, 2023 (file photo courtesy of Governor Parson's Flickr page)

Columbia Democratic lawmaker and former state party chair defend mayor from criticism over drag queen performance

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey (left) speaks to St. Louis Public Radio political correspondent Jason Rosenbaum at the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City on January 18, 2023 (photo courtesy of Governor Parson’s Flickr page)

“Nothing short of deplorable.” That’s how Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey (R) describes Thursday’s Columbia diversity celebration that featured three drag queens who performed before 1,000  people, including about 30 Columbia Public Schools (CPS) students.

A key mid-Missouri Democratic state lawmaker, a former state party chair and the Boone County clerk are defending the event.

Attorney General Bailey is blasting Columbia Public Schools (CPS) and Mayor Barbara Buffaloe, telling “Wake Up Mid-Missouri” that the drag show is an outward expression of desired sexuality.

“This issue is about protecting children. And if the school officials who are charged with the care, custody and control of those kids aren’t concerned about what’s in the best interest of the child and protecting our children and giving the parents a voice, then we will step up and do it for them,” Bailey says.

State Rep. David Tyson Smith (D-Columbia) speaks on the Missouri House floor in Jefferson City on February 7, 2022 (file photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

The attorney general says all options are on the table, adding that he’s committed to ensuring that our school system is educating children, not indoctrinating them.

State Rep. David Tyson Smith (D-Columbia) has written a letter to Mayor Buffaloe, supporting Thursday’s Columbia Values Diversity celebration. Representative Smith writes that “those who criticize the city, the school district or others in supporting diversity must not be allowed to damper our spirit of inclusion.”

CPS Superintendent Dr. Brian Yearwood says although CPS was unaware what the performance by NClusion+ at the Holiday Inn Expo Center would entail, it was not an adult performance. Dr. Yearwood’s letter to Governor Mike Parson (R) says the attorney general is misrepresenting what happened at Thursday’s breakfast. Bailey disputes that and takes exception to Yearwood’s letter.

Columbia Mayor Barbara Buffaloe (second from left) poses with performers after the January 19, 2023 Columbia Values Diversity Celebration. Mayor Buffaloe tweeted after the event that “as hate crimes against drag show locations and performers are being committed in other communities, we want to reaffirm that Columbia is a community that supports all” (photo courtesy of Columbia Mayor Buffaloe’s Twitter page)

“Well the superintendent says well look, we didn’t really know what was going to be at the event. Okay so that’s an admission of willful negligence. If that’s true it’s an admission of willful negligence. But I disagree with that, I reject that. They had an affirmative duty to know and several school officials were listed on the program, so I think they did know,” Bailey tells listeners.

The attorney general says the drag queen performance was inherently sexual.

“I am calling for the resignation of termination of any school official that knew that the drag show was going to be part of the event and willfully took children to the event. They need to resign or be terminated immediately,” says Bailey.

Former Missouri Democratic Party chair Stephen Webber, a former Columbia state representative, defends the event and is grateful to Mayor Barbara Buffaloe. Webber tweeted, in part: “We can’t let incendiary, bad faith attacks against vulnerable communities go unchallenged.”

Boone County clerk Brianna Lennon, who attended the breakfast, also defends the performance. She tweeted “I want to echo support for the CoMo Values Diversity planning committee, CPS, the city and the participants for creating a beautiful program to reflect our community. I’ve attended many breakfasts and this year was one of my favorites.”

Click here to listen to Wednesday’s full “Wake Up Mid-Missouri” interview with Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey.

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