Arkansas lawmakers introduced a new bill Monday that would classify drag shows as "adult businesses" under state law and change the rules to ban minors from such venues.
Senate Bill 43, introduced by Republican Senator Gary Stubblefield and State Representative Mary Bentley, aims to "categorize drag products as adult-oriented stores and add location restrictions in addition to adult-oriented stores." In the version proposed by the legislature.
The bill aims to amend the state's "adult-oriented businesses" code to add "performance" to a list that already includes "an adult lounge, adult bookstore or video store, adult cabaret or live adult entertainment." . Establishment, erotic cinema, erotic theatre, massage parlor with adult services, escort agency or nude models.
According to the bill, "a drag show displays a gender identity other than the performer's assigned birth gender through clothing, makeup, or other props traditionally worn by members designed to exaggerate the performer's sexual identity … and to. " sing, dance, dance or otherwise perform before the performer."an audience of not less than two people for entertainment, whether paid or gratuitous; intended to arouse lascivious interest."
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The bill would change state laws to prevent adult businesses from being located on public property or "where minors can see what adult businesses have to offer to the people who see them." ".
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Both houses of the Arkansas State Legislature have strong Republican majorities.
In 2021, Arkansas made headlines when it passed the first law in the nation's history banning medical or surgical procedures on minor patients who identify as transgender. The Save Teens Experimentation Act, or SAFE Act, passed despite Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson's veto. Hutchison said he opposes the law, calling it "massive government overreach."
KARK reported on Tuesday that a lawsuit challenging the law banning so-called "gender-affirming care" is now being heard by a judge. Referring to the repeal law, Megan Talack, director of Equality Northwest Arkansas, a gay and lesbian organization in Fayetteville, asked if the law "simply keeps children away from any form of abuse."
Talaq argued in an interview with KHBS that the bill's wording could unconstitutionally limit freedom of expression and interfere with outdoor LGBTQ events, including theater performances and Pride marches.
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The New York budget, in turn, provides funding for the Drag Queen Story Hour, which runs programs in public elementary, middle and high schools. Parents have criticized the program because it often allows minors to participate in programs during the school day without parental permission. The New York Post reported in June that more than $270,000 in taxpayer dollars have been spent on the program since 2018, which also extends to public libraries.
Although drag performers read the books to children on some occasions, the appropriateness of the content, in which transgender people are sometimes exposed to underage children, is debated. Videos of other drag shows, described as "family friendly", showed performers dancing provocatively and making sexual innuendos while children were in the audience.