Following the ACLU of Texas filing a lawsuit challenging a measure to protect children from sexually explicit performances, a second lawsuit has been filed to block the new law.
Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP), a group of lawyers who work to advance civil rights for the “most vulnerable populations,” is filing the lawsuit on behalf of a theater company called VORTEX Repertory Company, several Texas LGBT Chambers of Commerce, and individual performers.
The Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce, San Antonio LGBT Chamber of Commerce, and the North Texas LGBT Chamber of Commerce have all followed suit, claiming the new law will hurt LGBTQ small businesses and the “Chamber’s mission focused on LGBTQ+ economic inclusion.”
Notably, the Texas House unanimously voted to recognize February 14, 2023, as Texas LGBTQ Chambers of Commerce Advocacy Day at the state Capitol earlier this year. The resolution celebrated the chambers of commerce departments now seeking to sue various Texas officials and cities due to Senate Bill 12 by State Sen. Bryan Hughes (R–Mineola).
SB 12, deemed the “drag ban” by opponents, restricts sexually explicit drag performances—including drag shows—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.
TCRP claims the law discriminates against LGBT Texans and violates their civil rights and freedom to express themselves through performance.
“This bill is a blatant violation of the First Amendment right to freedom of speech,” said Ashley Fernandez Dorsaneo, an attorney at the Texas Civil Rights Project. “Texans of all backgrounds and gender identities deserve to express themselves freely, but this ban silences a broad swath of speech by all kinds of actors and performers. Similar laws have been struck down in other states, and we are confident that SB12 will not hold up in court.”
The lawsuit asserts that politicians are aiming to stifle performances and speech they disagree with, saying it should be up to parents to decide what is age-appropriate for their children.
Brady Gray, president of Texas Family Project, says his organization “welcomes the challenges” as they will reveal who supports the sexualization of children.
“For the Texas Civil Rights Project to compare women wearing pants to sexually charged performances in the presence of minors shows just how unserious these people are,” Gray said. “Texas Family Project welcomes the challenges from these groups against SB 12. Not only will this serve to further codify this great legislation when they are defeated in court, but it will also allow the public to know who in our state is advocating for the sexualization and grooming of our kids.”
Unless the court rules to block the new law, it will go into effect September 1.