During a conference hosted by the Michigan Department of Civil Rights Wednesday, Nessel reportedly told the audience that “drag queens make everything better. Drag queens are fun.”
She then added, “And you know what I’ll say that was totally not poll tested, I’d say this, ‘A drag queen for every school,” according to a Detroit News reporter in attendance and audio of the event.
Nessel is the state’s first openly gay person elected to statewide office. In her speech, she described complaints about children being exposed to drag queens as “fake issues” that are dividing people and not impacting the quality education, noting that she is tired of officials creating “wedge issues that don’t help us, that don’t heal us, but divide us,” the Detroit News reported.
The comments came one day after the Republican-led Michigan Senate refused to take up a resolution proclaiming June as Pride Month without a disclaimer noting that “not every citizen in Michigan agrees with the lifestyle.”
Conservative news sites recently have reported on New York City spending taxpayer money on events such as Drag Queen Story Hour. The events were founded in 2015 in San Francisco and feature performers reading to children at libraries. One event this week in California was disrupted by the extremist Proud Boys group, prompting a hate-crime investigation.
Tudor Dixon, a Republican candidate for governor who had called for criminal penalties against adults involving children in drag shows, said in a statement Wednesday that “sexualized performers” shouldn’t be tolerated in any educational setting.
“The contrast for voters this election is clear: A return to normalcy where parents’ rights are respected, proficiency in reading, writing and math are emphasized, and race and sex activism are abolished from our early classrooms, or a Michigan where activists run wild pushing their personal political agendas on our children,” Dixon said.
Matthew DePerno, the presumptive Republican attorney general nominee to run against Nessel in the November election, called Nessel’s remarks “extreme.”
“Dana Nessel continues to show just how completely out of touch she is with Michiganders,” he said.
In a tweet responding to Dixon, Nessel said her comment was made in jest, suggesting Dixon’s response was “the most humorless take imaginable.”
“Your benefactor, (former U.S. Secretary of Education) Betsy DeVos, has been a greater threat to school children in Michigan than drag queens have ever been,” Nessel replied, referring to the DeVos family’s recent endorsement of Dixon’s campaign.