The Texas State Legislature passed a bill on Sunday aiming to clamp down on "sexually oriented" performances catered to minors. The State House gave the green light to Senate Bill 12 in an 87-54 vote, signaling its commitment to preserve the innocence of the youth.
The potential ramifications of the proposed legislation are significant; performers found guilty of violating the law could face a Class A misdemeanor, along with a $4,000 fine or a year behind bars. Furthermore, establishments found guilty of hosting such performances could be slapped with a whopping fine of up to $10,000.
With the Texas State Senate also backing the bill on Sunday, the final decision now rests with Republican Governor Greg Abbott. Reflecting the gravity of the situation, Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick stated that the legislation was aimed at "prohibiting sexualized performances and drag shows in the presence of a minor."
Expressing his dismay, Patrick added, "It is shocking to me that any parent would allow their young child to be sexualized by drag shows. We must protect children, who cannot make decisions on their own, from this scourge facing our state,” the Daily Wire reported.
Backing the same cause, the bill's sponsor, Rep. Matt Shaheen (R-Plano), voiced his concerns over the exposure of children to explicit, hyper-sexualized content. He underscored that such performances would not be tolerated in the Lone Star State.
The legislation specifically targets performances that involve nudity, or acts that imitate or depict sexual activities. It also covers shows that cater to a prurient interest in sex, irrespective of whether compensation for the performance is expected or received.
However, not everyone is on board with the legislation. Democrat Rep. Mary Gonzalez (D-Clint) voiced her concerns over the bill's broad scope, noting that it could potentially impact even the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders.
Assuming it gets signed into law, the bill would come into effect on September 1, 2023. It's worth noting that Texas isn't alone in its stance – several other Republican-led states, including Tennessee, Arkansas, Florida, and Montana, have also enacted legislation prohibiting sexual drag performances for children.