Last week marked the beginning of prefiling in the Texas Legislature, and legislation to prevent the sexualization of children has been flooding in. Republican State Reps. Jared Patterson (Frisco) and Matt Shaheen (Plano) wasted no time in filing companion measures that would define any commercial enterprise as a sexually oriented business if it hosts a drag event.
During the Texas Republican Party Convention earlier this year, delegates voted on the party’s priorities for the upcoming legislative session. Thousands of delegates voted to include the priority “stop sexualizing Texas kids.”
One of the most common ways children are subjected to age-inappropriate sexual behavior in Texas is through drag shows promoted as “all-ages” and “kid friendly.” At these events, scantily clad crossdressing men are allowed to dance suggestively to vulgar songs in front of children.
At some of these events, children have been “force-fed” money to give to these men, who then shove it down their faux cleavage in front of the child. At other events, children have been taught how to twerk and dance suggestively.
Despite the obvious sexual nature of these events, the Texas Comptroller’s Office has refused to intervene.
After citizens called for action to be taken against one such bar that hosted an explicit drag event, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar launched an investigation into the Dallas gay bar Mr. Misster. However, after months of dragging his feet on the investigation, Hegar shrugged off responsibility and punted the issue to the state Legislature.
In response to Hegar’s announcement that the Legislature should address the issue, Patterson and Shaheen quickly took action.
Patterson’s legislation, House Bill 643, and its duplicate companion, Shaheen’s House Bill 708, list drag performances under the definition of a sexually oriented business and specifically define a “drag performance” so that there can be no mistake:
“Drag performance” means a performance in which a performer exhibits a gender identity that is different from the performer’s gender assigned at birth using clothing, makeup, or other physical markers and sings, lip syncs, dances, or otherwise performs before an audience for entertainment.
State law currently prohibits parents from letting their children enter sexually oriented businesses. The proposed legislation would extend that prohibition to businesses hosting drag shows.
“We aren’t saying you can’t have drag shows,” Patterson said in a statement. “We are saying that if you do, you should be treated as a sexually oriented business. No child should be subjected to these types of businesses.”
The 88th Legislative Session will begin on January 10, 2023.
Concerned citizens may contact their elected representatives to ask how they will vote on such legislation.