The Montana House has approved a bill banning minors from attending drag shows.
The legislation would also ban drag shows from taking place in public spaces.
Republican Rep. Braxton Mitchell sponsored House Bill 359 because he said that a “sick agenda” was being pushed through all-ages drag shows.
“Why should children be at these drag shows?” Mitchell asked the Democrats who opposed the bill, according to a report from the Daily Montanan.
The bill expands the definition of a “sexually oriented business” to include venues that host drag performances.
“A sexually oriented business may not allow a person under 18 years of age to enter the premises of the business during a live nude performance or drag performance,” the bill states. “The owner, operator, manager, or employee of a sexually oriented business who is convicted of violating this section shall be fined not less than $1,000 or more than $5,000 for the first offense, not less than $2,500 or more than $5,000 for the second offense, and for third and subsequent offenses be fined $10,000 and, if applicable, the county or municipality shall revoke the business license held by the offender.”
The Daily Montanan reports that “as of Thursday morning, 149 constituents had messaged legislators in support of the bill and 270 constituents had sent messages in opposition. Opponents outweighed supporters when the bill was heard in the House Judiciary Committee earlier this month.”
Transgender Montana Rep. Zooey Zephyr said they are personally hurt by the legislation.
When asked why children should be allowed to attend drag shows, they said the older LGBTQ community had survived the AIDS epidemic and now had families.
“And now we’re taking some of our children and sharing an art form that’s valuable to our community in a way that is age appropriate to them,” she said, according to the DM report. “And to answer the sponsor’s question directly, ‘Why should children be there?’ That’s why. Because it matters to us and our community. Because we lived.”
Republican Majority Leader Rep. Sue Vinton reminded Zephyr that the current bill has nothing to do with transgender people.
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