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Tipsheet

Arkansas Lawmakers Approve Restrictions on Drag Shows

On Tuesday, the Arkansas Senate approved legislation restricting where drag shows can be located in the state. The legislation classifies drag shows as “adult-oriented” businesses, the same as strip clubs and adult theaters, according to the Associated Press.

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According to AP, drag queen story hours, when drag queens read stories to children in public libraries, prompted protests across the country. 

Republican Sen. Gary Stubblefield, the bill’s sponsor, told the state Senate before the vote that drag shows are inappropriate for children. 

“If you need your child to be entertained by a big human in a costume, take them to the circus or something,” Stubblefield said. “To me, this is putting our children in situations that violate their personal boundaries.”

All Democrats opposed the measure (via AP):

The majority-Republican Senate approved the bill on a 29-6 party line vote, with all six of the chamber’s Democrats opposing. The measure, which also bans drag shows from taking place on public property, now heads to the majority-Republican House. The bill, if enacted, could make Arkansas the first state to place such restrictions on drag shows as they face increased attention from Republican lawmakers and groups.

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders indicated in a recent interview that she would sign legislation similar to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits schools from teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity to young children. She has not indicated if she will sign the legislation restricting drag shows. 

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“Governor Sanders believes we need to be protecting and educating kids, not indoctrinating them,” Alexa Henning, a spokesperson for Sanders, told AP when asked about the bill. “It’s time to get back to letting kids be kids again.”

Late last year, a federal trial surrounding a state law banning “gender-affirming” health care for minors began. This includes hormone therapy, puberty blockers, and sex reassignment surgery. As Townhall covered, doctors who violate the law could lose their licenses, as well as other professional measures, and could face lawsuits.

“What we’re doing in Arkansas is protecting children from life-altering, permanent decisions,” Republican then-Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said. “Nothing about this law prohibits someone after the age of 18 from making these decisions.” 

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