A proposed bill in Tennessee would make it illegal for drag queens to perform in front of children.
According to SB 0003, introduced by Republican State Sen. Jack Johnson, drag shows would be redefined as “adult cabaret” and would prohibit shows from being viewed “by a person who is not an adult.”
“I filed this legislation to protect children,” Johnson stated, according to CBN News.
“There are certain performances, movies, and places that are inappropriate for children. Just as current law prohibits strip clubs from admitting children, this legislation would also prohibit sexually suggestive drag shows from being performed on public property, or on any non-age-restricted private property where a minor could be present.”
The bill makes first-time offenses Class A misdemeanors, with subsequent violations being Class E felonies.
Drag queens are concerned over the proposed legislation, with Nashville drag performer Veronika Electronika claiming to NBC News the bill blurs the lines between illegal and legal shows.
“If that law passes, I would be committing a potential felony,” Veronika said. “I don’t know who will be the drag police to judge whether my performance was adult-oriented.”
Johnson, meanwhile, contends the bill is simply a means of ensuring children and families are protected from sexualized adult-themed content.
“We’re protecting kids and families and parents who want to be able to take their kids to public places. We’re not attacking anyone or targeting anyone,” Johnson told NBC.
“I’ve heard references to this bill that it will ban drag shows? Well, no, it won’t. It just says you can’t do something that’s sexually explicit. It won’t prevent someone dressed in drag from being in a parade or being in public.”
The bill was introduced after a drag show at Tennessee Tech University this past September where children were seen handing cash to performers.
Tennessee is one of five states, including Texas, Idaho and Michigan, considering laws limiting drag shows from being performed in front of youngsters.