Texas state Rep. Brian Slaton, a Republican who represents a district outside of Dallas, announced Monday that he will introduce a bill in the Texas House of Representatives in the coming days that would ban children from drag shows.
Slaton says his move is a reaction to a local drag show in Dallas that allowed children to attend.
The legislation would protect "kids from drag shows and other inappropriate displays," according to a news release by Slaton.
“The events of this past weekend were horrifying and show a disturbing trend in which perverted adults are obsessed with sexualizing young children,” Slaton said in the release. “As a father of two young children, I would never take my children to a drag show and I know Speaker Dade Phelan and the rest of my Republican colleagues wouldn’t either. Protecting our own children isn’t enough, and our responsibility as lawmakers extends to the sexualization that is happening across Texas.”
The release also stated that Slaton would continue "his fight" to have gender-affirming health care considered "child abuse" in the state.
Following Slaton's announcement, Equality Texas CEO Ricardo Martinez said in a statement to The Advocate, “In spite of Rep. Slaton’s attempts to harass, demean, and belittle his own LGBTQ+ constituents on the floor of the Texas House, none of his numerous anti-trans amendments were adopted. In a state that has a history of being openly hostile to LGBTQ+ people, drag shows have been creating safe places for our community for nearly a century. As early as the 1930s there was a thriving drag scene in San Antonio.”
Martinez added that as we approach the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting it's vital to remember the "fragility" of our queer safe spaces.
"Fear-mongering puts those spaces at risk," he said.“The past few weeks have reminded us of the state of danger that Texas children live in every day. ... Right now, Texans are laser-focused on real issues that put our children at risk. We will not be distracted by Slaton’s attempt to scapegoat a longstanding part of Texas culture.”
Beginning in February, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, via an order from Gov. Greg Abbott, started investigating parents who allow their transgender children access to gender-affirming care, with the rationale that such care is child abuse.
Abbott's order was based on a nonbinding legal opinion issued by the state's Attorney General, Ken Paxton, that characterized gender-affirming care as abuse. The opinion has been criticized as unscientific and politically biased. Abbott and Paxton are both far-right, anti-LGBTQ+ Republicans.
The Texas Supreme Court offered a mixed ruling on May 13 in a suit challenging the order. It lifted an injunction placed by a lower court on enforcement of the order while the lawsuit is heard, but it also said the policies of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services were at the discretion of that agency, not the governor. Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton could offer advice to the DFPS, but the agency was not obligated to follow it.