Arkansas bill seeks to classify drag shows the same as strip clubs

Arkansas senators have passed legislation limiting where drag shows can be held, proposing to classify them the same as strip clubs and adult theaters.

The bill passed the 26-9 party line on Tuesday, with the six senators opposing the bill being Democrats. The bill would ban drag shows from being hosted on public property.

When asked if Republican Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders supported the bill, spokeswoman Alexa Henning said children should be protected, but did not say whether the governor would sign the bill.

“Governor Sanders believes we need to protect and educate children, not indoctrinate them,” Henning said. “It’s time to start letting kids be kids again.”

Bill will now head to the Arkansas House, which is owned by Republicans.

Opponents of the bill say it targets certain groups of people.

“It sounds to me like you’re trying to put a target on people who you don’t think are normal,” Democratic Sen. Stephanie Flowers said.

Specifically, the bill would classify venues that hold drag shows as adult-oriented businesses, which would prohibit them from being within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, schools, parks and libraries. .

American drag queen Trixie Mattel performs onstage during “Trixie and Katya Live” at ACL Live.
Getty Images/Rick Kern

The bill defines a drag show as someone who dances, sings, lip-syncs, in front of an audience of two or more people while using a different gender identity than one given at birth, and “uses clothing , makeup, or other paraphernalia that are traditionally worn by members of and are intended to exaggerate the gender identity of the performer’s opposite sex.

Democratic Senator Clarke Tucker said the bill was unconstitutional and likened it to bullying.

“The truth is, this bill isn’t about governance…it’s about bullying,” Tucker said.

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