AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas House of Representatives will soon take up a pair of bills officially passed by the Senate Wednesday that would enact new consequences for drag-related events held in the state.
Lawmakers first approved an expanded version of Senate Bill 12, which would make it a crime to hold a drag show or any other performances considered overtly sexual if they’re in front of or could possibly be seen by minors. The bill passed by a final vote of 20-11. It received initial approval Tuesday after a tense exchange during a debate.
The legislation would levy a penalty of up to $10,000 against any business owner hosting a “sexually oriented performance” with anyone who’s younger than 18 present. A city or county would also not be able to host these kinds of performances on public property, according to the proposal. The bill defines “sexually oriented performance” as a “male performer exhibiting as a female, or a female performer exhibiting as a male” who “appeals to the prurient interest in sex.”
Drag performers could also face a criminal misdemeanor charge if they perform in front of children or on public property, according to the language in SB 12.
Following that vote Wednesday, the lawmakers also approved Senate Bill 1601 by a vote of 19-10, with two senators voting present. This legislation would cut off state funding to any public library that hosts a children’s reading event led by a drag performer.
Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, introduced both bills this session. He and other Republican lawmakers said these restrictions are needed to protect children from inappropriate conduct and materials. However, Democrats and other advocates argue these measures are government overreach targeting the LGBTQ+ community.
The House will now have to consider and approve both pieces of legislation before the governor can potentially sign them into law.
These votes come a day after the Texas Senate approved legislation banning treatment options for transgender young people, and it will ultimately apply to those already receiving that kind of health care in the state after a reversal among Republican lawmakers.
The 88th regular legislative session is set to end on May 29.