Texas lawmakers debating legislation on drag shows

State lawmakers are debating legislation that supporters believe will protect children, but opponents believe it's an attack on the LGBTQ community.

Both bills concern drag shows. SB 12 would classify drag shows as "sexually oriented performances." The proposal issues fines to businesses that allow children at a show where a male performer dresses up like a woman.

SB 1601 would prohibit public libraries that host drag performers from receiving state funding.

"One particular type of sexually explicit performance has moved from adult establishment into venues that are generally accessible to the public, including children. Drag shows are sexually explicit and expose children to issues of sexuality and identity that should be reserved for adult," said state Sen. Bryan Hughes, author of SB 12 and SB 1601.

"I agree with you with the importance of protecting children from harmful content. And I'm here today to voice my opposition to SB 12 and SB 1601," said Gilbert Hernandez, a drag performer. "This is my drag persona. In that time since, my drag has evolved from a hobby to a successful part-time business. Drag is my art. It showcases my creativity and self-expression in multiple avenues. I have helped raise over $200,000 for local charities."

Libraries in Central Texas have become a common battleground for drag performances. In 2019, protesters clashed outside the Leander Public Library after a "drag queen story time" event was canceled because a drag performer was going to read to children.

READ MORE: Leander Family Pride Festival and Story Time draws over 200 demonstrators

"I just want kids to be kids. I don't want kids to have sexual indoctrination, just sexual books read to them about changing genders," said Angela Williams, a Leander resident, back in 2019.

"We have no interest in indoctrinating children. We just kind of read and share a message of inclusivity and kindness, and I don't think those are terrible messages to put out there," said Miss Kitty Litter ATX, a drag performer, back in 2019.

Right now, lawmakers and the public are still discussing both bills in the Senate State Affairs Committee.