March 30, 2023

Tennessee First State to Ban Drag Shows for Minors

11 more states have seen similar bills introduced

Last Thursday, Tennessee became the first U.S. state to explicitly ban drag performances in public spaces accessible to minors.

As Statista’s Katharina Buchholz reports, Gov. Bill Lee signed the bill into law after he himself had cause some controversy when high school year book pictures of him dressed in drag resurfaced. While the state is currently the only one with such a law, this could soon change.

According to Time Magazine, 11 more states – in the U.S. South, Midwest or West – have seen similar bills introduced. Arkansas recently passed a law restricting adult-oriented shows, but language specific to drag shows was removed previously.

The bills are all aimed at drag show performances, but differ in their specifics.

For example, Arizona’s introduced bill looks to ban drag performances for those under the age of 15, while Nebraska wants to put that cutoff at 19.

While a bill in Missouri only aims to outlaw drag performances on public property, most others target all public spaces where minors could be present.

While drag performances in bars would carry an age limit of 21 in the U.S. anyways, the bills could affect drag shows for example at street festivals or theaters as well as during a format that drew special ire from conservatives – drag queen story hour.

The initiative started by a San Francisco-based drag performer to educate and foster acceptance for the LGBT community has seen drag queens read to children in bookshops and libraries since 2015.

While not all drag performers are LBGT (and being a drag performer is distinct from being trans), the practice has a strong history in the LGBT community, especially among gay men. 

Today, more than 7 percent of adults in the U.S. identify as LGBT.

Prior to 1776, American patriots lawfully nullified British rule by creating their own parallel government.

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