Torres and McKenna provided CNA with screenshots showing the threats of violence they received on social media after the protest of the drag show on April 14.
“Everybody make fun of these bigots…F***** nerds” one social media post read.
“Eggs and tomatoes are too soft, if they are still out there, y’all should start throwing bricks at them!!” another post said.
The two said they were insulted with profanities while protesting their freshman year as well.
No help from university administrators
In response to a request for comment from CNA, Matt McDermott, associate director of external communications with Loyola University Chicago, issued a statement saying that the university “does not condone actions that disrespect the rights of others.”
“Loyola University Chicago is a diverse community that promotes mutual respect, student safety, and learning. As a Jesuit, Catholic university, we advocate civil discourse and hearty debate and strongly believe it advances education, engagement, and understanding,” the statement said. Students are expected to adhere to “community standards and respect all members of the university community,” he said.
Torres and McKenna told CNA they did not file a complaint with administrators over the threats they had received after their protest because, they said, based on their experiences, they didn’t think the school would do anything.
When Torres and McKenna arrived at the school for their freshman year in 2021 and heard there was a drag show being held, they began gathering signatures for the petition to stop the performance and went to the school administration.
Torres said after several unsuccessful attempts to meet with a school official to express their concerns, she and McKenna were granted a meeting with Samantha Maher Sheahan, the associate dean of students.
Sheahan told Torres: “This university does not teach the Catholic faith is true,” according to both the students’ accounts.
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Sheahan also allegedly said that Title IX laws prohibit the school from stopping the drag show because the school would lose federal funding.
According to the U.S. Office for Civil Rights, “Title IX does not apply to an educational institution that is controlled by a religious organization to the extent that application of Title IX would be inconsistent with the religious tenets of the organization.”
“Title IX has religious exemptions, and there are public schools that have canceled their drag shows. So it’s really just silly,” McKenna said.
CNA reached out to Sheahan for comment, but McDermott said that he was responding on behalf of her and any other members of the university contacted for comment.
2018 drag show featured man dressed as nun
The following academic year, in the fall of 2022, Torres and McKenna met with Father Richard Salmi, SJ, the school’s associate vice president for mission integration, to express their concerns about the drag show but were again disappointed with the result.