Texas: The Issue Is - Should places where drag shows are held be classified as sexually oriented business?

Three North Texas Republicans are pushing to ban children from drag shows. 

Frisco Rep. Jared Patterson wants to go a step further, making businesses change their classification to a sexually oriented business.

Rep. Patterson: If you want to host an explicit drag show at your business, then you need to be able to do that. But you shouldn’t be allowed to have kids there and you should not be able to have the same organization as any other business that is not having explicit shows at your business. 

Dial: I know Republicans are big on saying, the Republican Party thinks parents can make the best decision for their children. Whether it’s school choice or something else. Why can’t a parent make this decision for their child?  

Rep. Patterson: That’s a great question. I am a huge parental right person, I fought for that for the past year as it relates to sexually explicit materials in the school library. But we have a series of laws on the books to protect the physical well-being of kids in the state of Texas. Whether it’s a kid can’t buy a handgun, kid can’t buy alcohol, tobacco, etc. We’ve got to take their mental health as serious as their physical well-being.

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Dial: Your bill, as it is written right now, would say anyone who has a drag show, we need to classify their business as a sexually oriented business. [PATTERSON: Yes]. That’s like a strip club. [PATTERSON: Yes]. Do you think that’s a step too far?  

Rep. Patterson: Well, you know that will be debated, and we will decide as 181 legislators in Austin this session. I think that what we’ve got to find where that line is and where this needs to be.  

Dial: So why not just say no children at drag shows? Why make a business who may do it once a month totally change what their business is classified as?

Rep. Patterson: We will see where this ends up in the session, but what I will tell you is there are certain reasons why we have regulations around sexually oriented businesses where you can’t be near a school or near a museum, certain things like that in certain communities. I think we just don’t want those businesses that are having, even regularly or semi-regularly explicit content going on. We don’t want that in the pathways where families are walking, where young kids are going to be.  

Dial: I know, as a conservative republican, you may have an opinion about people who participate in drag shows, but for the purposes of this interview, you are not against drag shows? You are against having them in the presence of children and you consider them to be sexually explicit.  

Rep. Patterson: Look, I don’t want to stop theatre from happening or professional wresting or anything else where people may dress up and pose as something they are not. But when it comes to sexually explicit content, we’ve got to keep our kids away from it. Whether that’s in the school library, whether that’s in the curriculum, whether that’s at a drag show, no matter where that is in society, we should be focused on protecting our kids, protecting their mental health and well-being and protecting them from this explicit content.  

Dial: We’ve seen a lot of these bills pop up lately, you mentioned libraries, now drag shows. Is this just throwing red meat to your base?

Rep. Patterson: I am passionate about protecting our kids, whether it’s in the library, whether it’s a drag show, online on social media. I have filed a number of bills all related to this topic, the sexualization of our kids. I think it’s going to be a massive topic we discuss this session, is to work on protecting our kids. I think it’s going to be a big fight and we will see what happens.