Title IX

Criticizing a Drag Show Earned This Catholic College Student a Visit From the Title IX Coordinator

"My identity is not up for debate."


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Declan Leary, a conservative student at a private Jesuit university in Ohio, was questioned by the administration after objecting on religious grounds to the annual campus drag show.

"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," he wrote in an op-ed for the campus newspaper.

The piece generated heated argument. It also attracted the attention of John Carroll University's Title IX coordinator, who met with Leary and his editor about the article's publication, according to The College Fix.

"I just got the impression that he was required to meet with me because of all the complaints he received about the column," Leary told The College Fix, noting that the vice president for student affairs and vice president for mission and identity have both scheduled meetings as well.

Leary's editor at The Carroll News, Olivia Shackleton, penned an inspiring defense of publishing the column. "We stand by what we publish, and we will continue to let all of our different perspectives be shown," she wrote.

But some students think The Carroll News should have never given Leary space to argue that the drag show is immoral.

"My identity is not up for debate," Lillian Perkins, a philosophy student who identifies as non-binary, told Cleveland.com. "This is not a hot-button topic in the first place. My LGBTQ+ peers are not an issue to be addressed in a newspaper … The fact he even thinks it's up for debate is dehumanizing."

Perkins is entitled to their opinion, as is everyone else who had a problem with the column. (I certainly don't agree with it.) John Carroll is a private university, so there's no First Amendment violation here. But it's a bit concerning that the administration felt the need to step in, even if nothing came of it. If certain viewpoints are likely to draw the ire of administrators, students might feel less comfortable expressing that opinion.

And of course, the vast Title IX bureaucracy entangles itself in all matters relating to sex, gender, and sexuality, even when there's no real harm that needs addressing. In this case, it seems likely the coordinator involved himself after receiving formal complaints about the column. Some students evidently think the best way to settle differences of opinion is to have college administrators silence their peers.