Tennessee bans youth exposure to drag shows

The governor also signed this week a measure barring gender-related treatments such as drugs and surgeries for minors.

Updated: March 3, 2023 - 3:55pm

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Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee this week signed into law a measure barring drag shows on public property or in venues in which a child might see them.

"This bill gives confidence to parents that they can take their kids to a public or private show and will not be blindsided by a sexualized performance," wrote Republican Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, who sponsored the bill, on Thursday.

Set to take effect on April 1, the law bars "topless dancers, go-go dancers, exotic dancers, strippers, male or female impersonators,” engaging in performances seen as "harmful to minors" and "adult cabaret entertainment," the Washington Times reported. First violations of the act will constitute misdemeanors while repeat offenses would be felonies.

Johnson told CNN on Thursday that the law was not meant to target either drag shows or transgender individuals, but merely to ensure children would not be present during such activities.

"For clarification, this bill is not targeting any group of people. It does not ban drag shows in public. It simply puts age restrictions in place to ensure that children are not present at sexually explicit performances," he told the outlet.

More than a dozen other states are mulling comparable legislation, the Times noted. Tennessee is the first state in the Union to enact such a ban.

The governor also signed this week a measure barring gender-related treatments such as drugs and surgeries for minors.

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on Twitter.