DisArt is a disability arts and culture organization that scheduled a series of public performances in Grand Rapids during the ArtPrize festival. One of the events was a drag show performed by local actors alongside Drag Syndrome, a group of performers from the U.K. who are living with Down Syndrome.
The owner of the performance venue, local business and political figure Peter Meijer, cancelled the drag show performance, questioning whether the performers had the capacity to make their own decisions and stating that persons with disabilities are “special souls” and “should be protected.” DisArt then presented Meijer with assurances that the performers did have the capacity to understand and consent to their performances, but Meijer refused to reconsider his position.
In September 2019 the ACLU of Michigan filed a complaint on DisArt’s behalf with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, alleging discrimination on the basis of disability and sex.
(ACLU Attorney Jay Kaplan.)