Fr. Dillabough Letter regarding the USD Drag Show

Fr. Dillabough Letter regarding the USD Drag Show

Subj:             USD event
Date:          4/2/2012 12:58:56 P.M. Pacific DayughtTime


CC: Ron Fowler has asked that the university contact you regarding the student sponsored event of a Drag Show scheduled in a couple of weeks.

If you want to give me a call I will attempt to put the event in the context that the university administration hasapproached this and other student activities, I recognize that this may not change your position about whether it is appropriate to have this event on campus, only to offer some information that you may not have.

As with all student sponsored events, an educational related rationale is expected as well as assurance thatbehavior at the event is consistent with the student organization handbook. Performers or presenters also sign a document stating that their work will also be within the framework of behaviors deemed consistent with ouridentity.

In this case, the Pride organization along with Associated Students have put together a series of educational andentertainment events to bring attention to “gender identity” and “gender expression” prejudice and protections. The newly passed state law prohibiting discrimination and harassment is the educational component underlying the desire on the part of students for the scheduled activities. In dialogue with the sponsoring group, as Student Affairs does with all groups, certain guidelines are in place to ensure that the show is focused on its educational purpose; that it demonstrate respect for the human dignity of all people at all times; neither gender, nor transgender individuals should be mocked; all performers and participants refrain from using language that may be experienced as offensive or degrading; music and content be within USD guidelines; only advertised on campus and the show must demonstrate respectful standards of sexuality and sexual activity.

Those involved with student events have been in contact with other Catholic universities who have hosted this kind of event already. While the controversial element and possibility for misunderstanding even around how the program is advertised is certainly something we are aware of, in itself “cross dressing” is not an immoral activity. As you are no doubt aware, the morality or immorality of an activity is related to intention and the actual behavior. We believe that we have made it clear that any immoral behavior is not acceptable on our campus. Ultimately, the students proposal is consistent with our support for diversity, respect for individual dignity as well as academic freedom, freedom of inquiry and freedom of expression. As recently as last month all of San Diego‘s universities honored aKyoto prize winner who has spent his entire life in the ancient art of Kabuke, a male actor dressing as a female and playing female roles. I recognize that the “Drag Show” moniker in our society often represents less respectable level of entertainment. Though I personally would have preferred a different way to educate around this issue, I believe the intention of our students is honorable and not meant to violate sensitivities of alums and friends but to educate and bring about respect for all in our society.

Fr. Dan Dillabough