USD president defends drag show on campus, citing other Catholic schools that hold similar events — meanwhile, opposition mounts

The president of the University of San Diego — the self-described ‘Roman Catholic institution’ that plans to host a drag show this Wednesday — has written a letter to the school’s board of trustees defending the event.

USD president Mary Lyons told the trustees in the letter that the planned April 11 drag show is not inconsistent with the university’s Catholic identity, and names three other ‘Catholic’ colleges that have sponsored similar events.

The USD drag show, wrote Lyons, is “being held in conjunction with a series of educational lectures, discussions, and workshops designed to bring awareness and understanding about sensitive, contemporary issues surrounding gender identity and gender expression. In total, the events are intended to ‘foster students’ understanding of, and empathy for, the complexities of gender non-conformity.’ Not surprisingly, the drag show event is being singled out by those concerned as an indication that our university is advocating or promoting a lifestyle and behaviors inconsistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church and the Catholic identity of the University of San Diego. Of course, this is not the case.”

Lyons cited a 2011 state law — AB 887 — that led USD to include “gender identity” and “gender expression” in its policy prohibiting discrimination and harassment. The new state law and the new USD policy, she said, “have given rise to finding ways to heighten our students’ sensitivity and reinforce their respect for the individual. In this regard, the Associated Students and the Pride student organization planned events that have been quite common at other Catholic universities, including Santa Clara, DePaul, University of Seattle and others.”

Lyons’ letter specifically mentions USD alumnus Charles LiMandri, a prominent San Diego attorney affiliated with the Thomas More Law Center, who has launched a campaign to stop the drag show at his alma mater.

LiMandri has established a website — “Alumni for a Catholic USD” — to organize against the Wednesday event. (A link to the site is provided below.)

“I am writing to bring to your attention a dire concern that I have about our alma mater,” LiMandri wrote in a letter to some of his fellow USD alumni. “On April 11, 2012, USD is planning to have its ‘First Drag Show’ in the University Center. The published description about this so-called ‘monumental event’ is as follows: ‘PRIDE is hosting USD’s first ever drag show. Watch and cheer on students as they compete against each other in pageant-style to be USD’s first Supreme Drag Superstar. There will be a lip-sync competition, runway competition, and of course a Q & A session. Local San Diego drag queen Tootie Nefertootie will be MC-ing with a special guest performer.’”

“Tootie Nefertootie” is a drag performer at, among other venues, Lips nightclub and restaurant in San Diego, which advertises itself as “the ultimate in drag dining.”

“USD has already had multiple speakers and workshops on transgender issues, and more scheduled in the future, most recently during this Holy Week on April 4, 2012,” wrote LiMandri.

LiMandri asks his fellow alumni to voice their objections to Lyons by contacting her at, phone: (619) 260-4520, fax: (619) 260-6833, and to Charles Bass, director of the USD Alumni Association, at, phone: (619) 260-4819, fax: (619) 260-4188.

“If our objections continue to be ignored and this depraved event goes forward, then we are considering sending a letter to our thousands of fellow USD alums to let them know about these serious concerns,” wrote LiMandri, noting that the present letter was sent only to a limited number of alumni. “We hope that will not be necessary and we thank you for your loyal support of USD and the Catholic values that have made it a great university.”

With regard to the drag shows at Santa Clara University mentioned by Lyons in her letter to the trustees of USD, an unnamed student at SCU videotaped the school’s 9th annual drag show in 2010 and posted it to YouTube. While the videotape is instructive by itself, the student went to the trouble of preparing a three-part, detailed explanation of why it is improper for Santa Clara, as a Catholic university, to be hosting such an event. Links to each part are provided below.

To see ‘Drag Show Analysis Part I,’ Click Here.

To see ‘Drag Show Analysis Part II, Click Here.

To see ‘Drag Show Analysis Part III, Click Here.

To visit the website of Alumni for a Catholic USD, Click Here.



Posted Monday, April 09, 2012 12:09 AM By Dan
“, and names three other ‘Catholic’ colleges that have sponsored similar events ” is just another form of the rationalization, “everyone else is doing it,” only here it’s, well, “someone else is doing it.” Which says nothing about whether or not is should be done in the first place.