MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) — A new bill that would prevent children from seeing drag performances is getting pushback from LGBT+ groups, while bill sponsors say it’s meant to protect children.
“I’m a dad,” said Rep. Mack Butler (R- Gadsden), one of the bill’s co-sponsors. “And if you look at all these sponsors of the bill, same thing, just dads trying to protect children.”
HB401 bans “lewd or lascivious dancing, presentations or activities including but not limited to… male or female impersonators, commonly known as drag queens or drag kings” in K-12 public schools, libraries or other public places where children are present.
Butler said that while he hasn’t heard of children being at drag shows in his district, he wants to get in front of the issue.
“There have been some instances across the state as well as other states. I’m just trying to take a stand for our children. Let them have their innocence — protect them,” Butler said.
Those with Central Alabama Pride said the bill infringes on free expression and discriminates against a community.
“So I just urge them to think about what they’re doing. Think about an entire community that’s being harmed,” Central Alabama Pride Executive Board Secretary Christopher Fitch said.
Fitch, who performs in drag shows as “Addison Vontrell,” said drag is not what lawmakers make it out to be.
“It’s not being provocative. It’s not being sexual. In drag, I’m completely covered. You can’t see anything. You will never be able to see anything. It’s an art form; it’s expression,” Fitch said.
That expression, however, is something Butler said children shouldn’t be seeing.
“You’re taking young impressionable minds and basically telling them what’s up is down,” he said.
“I will not comply,” Fitch said. “You can try to make me stop, but I will not comply.”
The bill has been referred to the House State Government Committee.