HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A Pennsylvania lawmaker plans to introduce legislation to ban drag shows on public property “or in areas that can be seen by minors.”
State Representative Aaron Bernstein (R-Lawrence/Butler) said he plans to introduce the legislation “in recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month.”
Bernstein says the bill would classify drag shows as an “adult-oriented business” with limits that would “protect minors” such as the location and age of the intended audience.
“Parents have a right to know their children are not being exposed to sexually charged content in a public forum,” said Bernstein. “Drag shows that appeal to minors on school property, libraries, and other public places should not be accepted in any functioning society. My legislation will ensure that this is no longer occurs in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
The bill is similar to one introduced earlier this year by State Senator Doug Mastriano, who said said “it is disheartening that legislation like this is needed.” Mastriano’s bill has not yet been released or assigned to a committee, according to his office’s website.
Mastriano and Bernstein both referenced a drag performance at Hempfield School District in Lancaster County last year, where four drag queens attended an after-hours event for student members of the school’s Gay Sexuality Alliance Club.
The teacher was placed on administrative leave and the district did not comment on any further discipline.
Bernstein’s bill comes days after a federal judge temporarily blocked Tennessee’s first-in-the-nation law placing strict limits on drag shows just hours before it was set to go into effect, siding with a group that filed a lawsuit claiming the statute violates the First Amendment.
The decision comes after Memphis-based Friends of George’s, an LGBTQ+ theater company, filed the federal lawsuit Monday against Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy and the state.
The word “drag” doesn’t appear in the new law, which instead changed the definition of adult cabaret in Tennessee to mean “adult-oriented performances that are harmful to minors.” Furthermore, “male or female impersonators” are now classified as a form of adult cabaret, akin to strippers and topless, go-go and exotic dancers.
The Tennessee law banned adult cabaret performances from public property or anywhere minors might be present. Performers who break the law risk being charged with a misdemeanor or a felony for a repeat offense.