Republican states are fuming, and legislating, over drag performances

Republicans’ latest attack focus is on drag performances. A slew of bills, mostly in Republican states, are looking to restrict or prohibit drag show performances in the presence of children. 

Legislation moving through several GOP-controlled capitols would ban the gender-diverse shows in front of young people — including at schools, colleges, or on public property — sparking a furious response from the LGBTQ community and civil liberties groups.

According to POLITICO, Republicans say the performances expose children to sexual themes and imagery that are inappropriate. 

The right-wing claim has been massively condemned and rejected by advocates and civil liberties experts. 

The experts say the proposed measures are discriminatory against the LGBTQ community and could violate First Amendment laws.

Bills in at least 11 Republican states across the country are working their way through legislatures, though none have yet been signed into law.

There are proposed bills or bans going through Arizona, Arkansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia. 

The bills often seek to categorize drag shows the same way as explicit adult entertainment, and sometimes include language saying restrictions only apply to “prurient” exhibitions with erotic intentions, or include nudity or explicit material. 

Several proposals would prohibit drag performances or appearances in schools, while other bills further regulate shows on public property and in private businesses. 

Opponents argue that signing these measures into law might not only violate constitutional protections but also provoke a broader cultural suppression of LGBTQ people.

The introduction of anti-drag legislation, says Pen America, coincides with an increase in political rhetoric about drag performances and drag queen story hours in public libraries, as well as a growing number of recent protests or interruptions of drag events.

It also coincides with a conservative backlash against trans rights and broader gay rights, such as in Florida, which has passed so-called “don’t say gay” legislation that curtails the discussion of LGBTQ+ issues in schools.

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