After less than five minutes of debate, a Senate Bill banning minors from attending “sexually explicit performances” passed. The bill will now be sent to Governor Greg Abbott for final approval.
Senate Bill 12 by State Senator Bryan Hughes successfully obtained approval in the House on the evening of May 28, 2023. The bill received a vote of 87-54, with five Democrats voting in favor of the bill.
Following a meeting of lawmakers from both chambers in a conference committee, a revised bill was jointly introduced by the House and Senate. The updated legislation broadens the definition of sexual conduct within the penal code. The bill now encompasses the utilization of "accessories or prosthetics that enhance male or female sexual traits," in conjunction with sexually suggestive gestures.
Advocates have asserted that this particular amendment targets the props and costumes utilized by drag queens.
Local Profile previously reported Hughes explicitly mentioned “drag” in remarks he gave in a public hearing in March, saying, “Drag shows are sexually explicit and expose children to issues of sexuality and identity that should be reserved for adults.”
Lawmakers reached a consensus on the language of the bill just before the end-of-day deadline. The original intent to restrict minors from attending specific drag shows was maintained but without direct reference to drag performers.
“These bills discriminate against people based on sex, and not the actual content of performances,” Brigitte Bandit, a drag performer, said during the March hearing.
Individuals in violation of the law may face a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a potential penalty of up to one year of imprisonment and a fine of $4,000. The establishment responsible for hosting such violators could be subjected to a civil penalty of $10,000 per instance of non-compliance.
Collin County Representative Matt Shaheen acknowledged the bill and voiced his support.
“I appreciate Senator Bryan Hughes’ leadership on this important legislation, Shaheen said. “We will not tolerate our children being exposed to explicit, hyper-sexualized content from any type of performer in any way in the great state of Texas.”