Headline RoundupMarch 2nd, 2023

Tennessee Governor Signs Bill Banning Drag in Public

Summary from the AllSides News Team

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed a law effectively banning drag performances in public. 

The Details: The bill, Senate Bill 3, bans “adult cabaret performances” anywhere they “could be viewed by a person who is not an adult.” The bill’s definition of “adult cabaret performance” includes both sexual performers and “male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest, or similar entertainers, regardless of whether or not performed for consideration.” Lee also signed a bill banning gender transition care for trans minors. 

For Context: The political right focused more on drag queens as a “culture war” issue in 2022, with right-wing media personalities and lawmakers asserting they were sexual in nature, and therefore inappropriate for children. Some of this attention focused on drag queen story hours, in which drag queens read books to children at libraries. Members of the Proud Boys have protested outside drag events on multiple occasions, including as recently as last month. 

The Twist: Lee himself reportedly dressed in women’s clothing in a high school yearbook photo. When asked about it, Lee said it was “ridiculous” to conflate “something like that to sexualized entertainment in front of children.” 

How the Media Covered It: Coverage was far more common on the left than on the right. While some left-rated sources called the bill “anti-drag,” a Daily Wire (Right bias) news update referred to it as “pro-child.” LGBTQ outlets were particularly opposed to the bill, with one headline accusing Lee of a “cruel attack” on LGBTQ people and drag queens. 

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