The ACLU of Texas is leading a lawsuit on behalf of multiple LGBTQ organizations, businesses, and a drag performer to challenge a new law that will ban sexually explicit drag shows in the presence of minors.

The Woodlands Pride Inc, Abilene Pride Alliance, Extragrams LLC, 360 Queen Entertainment LLC, and drag performer Brigitte Bandit are suing the interim attorney general and multiple cities and district attorneys to block the measure.

Senate Bill 12, authored by State Sen. Bryan Hughes (R–Mineola), restricts sexually explicit drag performances on public property and in the presence of children. The measure makes the act a Class A misdemeanor, and anyone who violates the law would be subject to up to $10,000 in fines per offense. Gov. Greg Abbott signed the legislation into law in June.

The legislation comes as sexually explicit drag shows that target children have ramped up across the state.

The ACLU claims the measure violates the First and 14th Amendments and threatens drag performers’ livelihood and free expression.

“The Texas Drag Ban is stunningly broad in scope and will chill entire genres of free expression in our state,” said Brian Klosterboer, an attorney at the ACLU of Texas. “This law flies in the face of the First Amendment. No performer should ever be thrown in jail because the government disfavors their speech, and we are asking the Court to block this affront to every Texan’s constitutional rights.”

The lawsuit claims the “drag ban” is too broad and will give municipalities, counties, district attorneys, and the attorney general vast authority to impose criminal penalties on drag performers.

They also assert that due to the bill explicitly calling out the use of sexually explicit prosthetics and other accessories—including fake breasts and fake genitalia—it will prohibit expressive creativity for the groups and performers.

Brady Gray, president of Texas Family Project, says that while it’s not unexpected that the ACLU is defending sexually explicit drag shows for minors, his organization will continue to fight against the radical ideology.

“It is unsurprising but nevertheless sad that the ACLU has become the advocacy arm for groomers and pedophiles,” said Gray. “Texas Family Project will continue working to ensure children in Texas are safe from these attacks on their innocence.”

Unless the court rules to block the new law, it will go into effect September 1.

Emily Medeiros

Emily graduated from the University of Oklahoma majoring in Journalism. She is excited to use her research and writing skills to report on important issues around Texas.