On Tuesday, the Arkansas State Senate passed a bill that would impose greater restrictions on where drag shows are held by formally classifying such performances in the same way strip clubs and adult theaters are currently categorized.
As reported by Fox News, the bill passed on a party line vote of 29-6, supported by all Republicans and opposed by the small handful of Democrats in the upper chamber. The bill now heads to the State House of Representatives, where Republicans hold 82 out of 100 seats.
The bill would classify any location that hosts drag shows as an adult-oriented business, which would thus restrict them from being within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, parks, or libraries. The bill formally defines a drag show as someone dancing, singing, or lip-syncing while using a gender identity that is different from the gender they were born as, “using clothing, makeup, or other accessories that are traditionally worn by members of and are meant to exaggerate the gender identity of the performer’s opposite sex.”
When asked if Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders intends to sign the bill, spokeswoman Alexa Henning simply said that “Governor Sanders believes we need to be protecting and educating kids, not indoctrinating them.”
“It’s time to get back to letting kids be kids again,” Henning added.
Several Democrats expressed their outrage at the bill’s passage, with State Senator Stephanie Flowers (D-Ark.) saying “it appears to me you’re trying to put a target on people’s backs that are not, according to you, normal.”
“The truth is, this bill is not about governing,” said State Senator Clarke Tucker (D-Ark.), “it’s about bullying.”
The bill was introduced in response to the rise of drag queen shows aimed at children, with the most infamous example being “drag queen story hours” often hosted at schools or libraries. Most drag performances feature grown men dressed as women, complete with fake prosthetics, performing in an overtly sexual manner and encouraging young children to take part in the shows.