Texas 'Drag Ban' Headed to Court Ahead of 9/1 Implementation
Monday, August 7, 2023
Opponents of a new Texas law governing drag performances say it's so vague and broad, it could have a chilling effect on all free expression and should be blocked by the courts as unconstitutional.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas sued the Texas Attorney General and other defendants last week to prevent Senate Bill 12 from taking effect on September 1.
ACLU attorney Brian Klosterboer said the bill would ban drag performances in most public venues - but also applies to any entertainment that could be perceived as "sexual."
"From Shakespeare plays to Broadway musicals to karaoke nights," said Klosterboer. "And we know that this is another thinly veiled attempt to push LGBTQIA+ Texans out of public life."
The bill was originally designed to restrict kids from attending drag shows, but months of debate resulted in legislation that could mean a $4,000 fine, jail, or both for individual violators.
The bill also fines business owners $10,000 for hosting such performances in front of kids.
One plaintiff represented in the lawsuit by the ACLU is Austin drag artist Brigitte Bandit, who said she doesn't want her community used as a scapegoat by politicians.
"Drag has always been a form of free expression," said Bandit. "And for many performers, like myself, it allows us to earn a living while connecting with our community."
Klosterboer said he believes the law is another attempt to divide the people of Texas.
"Black and Brown drag performers and artists are going to be most targeted by this law," said Klosterboer. "And this law is going to be used as proxy to target, arrest, and even potentially jail people who don't conform to gender stereotypes."
Last month the ACLU of Texas, families and medical providers also sued to block Senate Bill 14 before it can go into effect - also on September 1. That law would ban transgender youth from receiving medically necessary health care.
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