Drag Show Bills Stall in Texas House

Texas House
Texas House of Representatives | Image by amadeustx/Shutterstock

The Texas House has yet to approve legislation that would prevent children from being exposed to drag shows, despite such bills being passed in the Texas Senate early last month.

The deadline for action is approaching quickly, as the 88th Texas Legislature is scheduled to conclude its current session on May 29.

Representative Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands) authored House Bill 4378, which would allow minors to “bring [legal] action against a person who knowingly promotes, conducts, or participates as a performer in [a] drag performance that occurs before an audience that includes the minor.”

The bill adds, “It is not a defense to an action brought under this chapter that the minor was accompanied at the drag performance by the minor’s parent or guardian.”

This legislation has yet to be approved.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has said legislation protecting children from “sexually-oriented drag shows” is one of his top priorities this session.

“It is shocking to me that any parent would allow their young child to be sexualized by drag shows,” Patrick said in a statement. “Children, who cannot make decisions on their own, must be protected from these sexually-oriented drag shows now occurring more and more in front of them.”

However, some critics from the LGBTQ+ community argue this bill would go too far.

Johnathan Gooch, communications director for Equality Texas, told KUT Radio’s The Texas Newsroom, “The language is so broad that traditional theater venues, productions of Shakespeare, all kinds of plays where a trans performer or even a cis performer is acting out a role that involves cross dressing would also be on the chopping block.”

“Where is the limit to what they are trying to impose?” asked Gooch, per KUT. “In some ways, it’s very much a gender police where lawmakers are imposing their own ideas about what gender should look like on performers across the state.”

Meanwhile, two pieces of legislation targeting sexually explicit drag events have already passed in the Texas Senate, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

Lt. Gov. Patrick specifically emphasized his support for Senate Bill 12, authored by Senator Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola).

The bill would criminalize “sexually oriented performances on public property, on the premises of a commercial enterprise, or in the presence of a child.”

The Texas Attorney General would be authorized to sue any organization that violates the legislation.

“I selected SB 12 to be a top priority of mine because someone must fight back against the radical Left’s degradation of our society and values,” said Patrick. “I will not allow Texas children to be sexualized and scarred for life by harmful drag performances.”

Sen. Hughes also authored Senate Bill 1601, which would block public libraries from receiving state funding if they host drag queen story hour events.

“A municipal library may not receive state or other public funds if the library hosts an event at which a man presenting as a woman or a woman presenting as a man reads a book or a story to a minor for entertainment and the person being dressed as the opposite gender is a primary component of the entertainment,” according to the text of the pending legislation.

Both bills passed in the Texas Senate on April 5 and now await hearings in the House Committee on State Affairs.

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