Anti-LGBTQ+ law: Montana bans people wearing drag from reading to children IG News

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Helena, Mont. ,

Montana has become the first state to ban public schools and libraries from reading books to children, part of a host of legislation aimed at the rights of the LGBTQ+ community in Montana and other states.

Bills in Florida and Tennessee also appear to seek to ban drag reading events, but for both the performances must be sexual in nature, which may be open to interpretation. Both bills also face legal challenges.

Montana’s law is unique because – although it defines such an event as an event hosted by a drag king or drag queen who reads children’s books to minor children – it does not require the sexual element to be prohibited. .

This makes Montana’s law the first to specifically ban drag reading events, said Sasha Butchert, an attorney with Lambda Legal, a national organization that seeks to protect the civil rights of the LGBTQ+ community and those diagnosed with HIV and AIDS. Has been done

“It’s constitutionally questionable on all levels,” Butchert said Tuesday.

The bill, co-sponsored by more than half of the Republican-controlled legislature, went into immediate effect after being signed Monday by Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte.

Gianforte signed the bill because he believes “it is wildly inappropriate for young children, especially preschool and elementary school children, to be exposed to sexual material,” spokeswoman Caitlin Price said in a statement. .

The bill initially sought to ban minors from participating in drag performances, which were defined as shows that “stimulated lascivious thoughts.” The law was later amended to prohibit minors from participating in sexually oriented or obscene performances on public property.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Braxton Mitchell, said he sponsored the bill “because in recent years drag shows are specifically targeted at children,” and spoke of online videos that appear to show children in drag shows.

“In my humble opinion, there is no such thing as a family-friendly drag show,” Michele said in April.

Drag performers protesting the law stated that they have different drag performances for children than those intended for adults.

It is unclear how often such drag reading events have been held in public schools or libraries in Montana. Drag reading events were held in 2022 at Zoo Montana in Billings and a bookstore in downtown Helena. Both events sparked protests, but neither would be banned under the new law. Another event held at a Bozeman bookstore last weekend also drew protesters.

A Montana drag performer with Mister Sisters in Great Falls, whose stage name is Julie Yard, helps organize the drag reading event and says she’s never been asked to coordinate at a school — public or otherwise. 6 to 10 events have been scheduled across the state in the coming months.

“Usually requests for drag story hours are high during the summer,” Yard said. “They usually coincide with Pride celebrations.”

Planning for such events in the current political climate also includes developing a security plan and working with local law enforcement in case protesters show up.

Drag reading events will continue despite the protests, which the Yard says helps prove they are needed.

“For us, it’s doubling down again and making sure we’re sending the message to anyone out there, but especially vulnerable kids, that there’s a place for them, there’s a community for them, and There are people out there who are interested in making sure that they are accepted and that they feel safe.”

A Tennessee bill to ban drag performances in public places or in the presence of children was temporarily blocked in March by a federal judge, who sided with a group that claimed the law violated their First Amendment rights. violates rights. US District Judge Thomas Parker said the state had failed to make a compelling argument about why Tennessee needed the law, and agreed it was vague and overly broad.

A drag show restaurant has filed a challenge against Florida’s ban, saying the law deprives restaurants of their First Amendment rights of free expression. The restaurant held “family-friendly” drag shows on Sundays, but was required by law to ban children from the shows. Governor Ron DeSantis also signed bills this week banning gender-affirming medical care for minors and restricting the discussion of personal pronouns in school.

Gianforte signed a bill to ban gender-affirming care for transgender minors in Montana during a legislative session this year, in which transgender lawmaker Democratic Rep. care bill

Last week, he signed a bill into state law to define the word “sex” only as male or female. Kansas and Tennessee have similar laws set to take effect on July 1 that LGBTQ+ allies argue will deny legal recognition to non-binary and transgender people and prevent them from changing the gender on their birth certificates and driver’s licenses. Montana’s law will take effect on October 1.