The superintendent of Columbia Public Schools (CPS) has written an open letter to Missouri Governor Mike Parson, saying there is an “unfortunate amount of misinformation” being shared from outside Columbia about Thursday’s diversity celebration. The event included three drag queens who performed before a sold-out crowd that included about 30 CPS students.
CPS Superintendent Dr. Brian Yearwood’s two-page letter says CPS’ role in the Columbia Values Diversity Celebration is limited to participating in a single portion of the program centered on student writings. Yearwood says CPS students submit personal works about diversity themes that honor and reflect Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s efforts in promoting equality in the face of bigotry.
Thursday’s breakfast and event was sold-out, and Yearwood says about 30 CPS students were among the more than 1,000 people in attendance. Superintendent Yearwood says two CPS parents whose children were in attendance have complained.
Dr. Yearwood also takes exception to Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s (R) comments on the event. Bailey slams Superintendent Yearwood and Mayor Buffaloe, saying public officials are required to report instances of child endangerment. Yearwood says any characterization about child endangerment or the event violating state law “is categorically false.” Attorney General Andrew Bailey says transporting students to a drag show likely violates state law. He’s referring to a law approved by Missouri lawmakers in 2022 that criminalized providing certain sexual material to a student. The law took effect in late August.
Yearwood concludes his letter to Governor Parson by writing that “I extend an open invitation to meet and discuss our common aspirations for scholars to achieve at high levels and for our public education system in Missouri to thrive.”
Dr. Yearwood’s letter to the governor has also been sent to CPS employees and parents.