Two West Texas A&M students have filed a federal lawsuit over an on-campus drag queen show being canceled.
The event being canceled has sparked protests from students.
Barrett Bright and Lauren Stovall, the President and Vice President of the student LGBTQ group Spectrum WT, claim that Dr. Walter Wendler, President of West Texas A&M University, violated their First Amendment rights by not allowing the event to take place.
“As a public official, (Wendler) cannot bar Spectrum WT and its members from exercising their First Amendment rights merely because he believes his personal opinions override the Constitution. They do not,” the lawsuit claims, according to a report from ABC 7.
The report states that the students are suing Wendler, the VP of Student Affairs, Chancellor John Sharp, and the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents.
“As required by Texas state law, West Texas A&M policy prohibits the university from “deny[ing a student] organization any benefit generally available to other student organizations at the institution,” including use of university facilities, based on the “political, religious, philosophical, ideological, or academic viewpoint expressed by the organization or any expressive activities of the organization,’” the lawsuit continues.
The drag show, “A Fool’s Drag Race,” was scheduled for March 31.
On Monday, the student’s were informed that the event could not take place.
Bright claims that Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Christopher Thomas told him that Wendler did not like the idea of hosting a drag show because it is discriminatory towards women.
“West Texas A&M had not received any formal or informal complaints from students or staff that a drag show would constitute harassment of any individual or group,” the lawsuit argues.
The students are asking the court to force the university to host the event and prevent them from stopping future drag events.
ABC 7 reports that they are also seeking a “declaratory judgment that Wendler’s cancellation of the March 31 charity drag show, and his pledge to prevent similar expressive activity at West Texas A&M, violate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,” compensatory and nominal damages against Wendler, punitive damages against Wendler, and their attorneys’ fees.