Barbados dance troupe considers legal action over disqualification for challenging trans ideology

Speak Life Classroom excerpt
Speak Life Classroom excerpt | Screengrab: YouTube/Christian Concern

A dance and theatrical group in Barbados is considering legal action after being disqualified from a competition for a performance affirming biblical teachings on gender.

A lawyer for the group told The Christian Post that the disqualification amounts to religious discrimination.

Praise Academy of Dance Barbados has secured the legal help of the U.K.-based Christian Legal Centre (CLC) after the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) disqualified the group in October for allegedly breaching "the bounds of good taste" and making "defamatory claims," according to Christian Today.

Get Our Latest News for FREE

Subscribe to get daily/weekly email with the top stories (plus special offers!) from The Christian Post. Be the first to know.

A registered Premiere Arts School with affiliated schools in Jamaica and Trinidad, the Praise Academy of Dance has won more than 55 NIFCA medals, and produced dances and theatrical productions for the past 20 years that touch on key cultural issues.

The performance, titled "Speak Life," which can be viewed on YouTube, is about a 15-year-old girl struggling with gender identity who learns to embrace her biological sex because of the Bible. 

Dialogue from the performance includes affirmation that sex is biologically fixed, according to one's chromosomes, and that "it's not a choice, you don't get to pick, that's the science, period!"

The show also displayed banners echoing Genesis 1:27: "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."

A panel of NIFCA judges determined that Praise Academy of Dance's performance violated the rules of the competition, which prompted the group to appeal in vain against the ruling, according to local Barbados Today.

Sen. Gregory Nicholls, a member of the Barbados Labour Party who acted as arbiter in the dispute, upheld the decision, telling the local outlet on Nov. 17 that "there is no basis to interfere with the prior decision of the judges of the entry Speak Life which was disqualified under rule 9B of the NIFCA rules."

"The NIFCA judges are experienced practitioners in their respective fields and are carefully chosen by NCF to judge in its competitions," said Nicholls. "The judges determined that the entry was in breach of the rules, more specifically, in that it exceeded the bounds of good taste. The entry was adjudged to have denounced various gender identities of the LGBTQ community via raging characterizations and expressions. This was a determination that the experienced panel of judges were entitled to make."

Davida Maynard-Holligan, an attorney who is representing Praise Academy of Dance Barbados, said in a statement provided to CP that the group has been "excluded in the name of inclusivity," and that the disqualification "amounts to a ban of the expression of the Christian faith."

"The show was performed on a government-owned, tax-funded stage, and marks one of the first known instances of the Christian faith being oppressed in Barbados in public," she said, and insisted that the issue should have been referred to the Supreme Court of Barbados.

“The decision to disqualify and the ruling issued discriminates against Christian beliefs on these issues and if left unchallenged, has serious ramifications for freedom of religion and expression in Barbados and across the Caribbean,” she said.

“This matter should have been left to the Supreme Court to rule on, but instead the public and the media have been misled by a statement that the arbiter 'has not found any basis to overturn the decision of the judges.'"

“It is a shameful day for the National Cultural Foundation, and the Praise Academy faces no alternative but to consider its legal options,” Maynard-Holligan added.

Artistic Director Marcia Weekes worries that the NCF's ruling “may impact, if left unchecked, how we in Barbados and the Caribbean express our faith on issues of gender and sexuality in the future," according to Barbados Today.

The Christian Post reached out to both Nicholls and NCF for comment but did not receive a response by press time. 

Jon Brown is a reporter for The Christian Post. Send news tips to

Was this article helpful?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone.

By making a recurring donation or a one-time donation of any amount, you're helping to keep CP's articles free and accessible for everyone.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.

Most Popular

More Articles