A statement from the All In For Equality Coalition (ACLU of Texas, Equality Texas, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, Texas Freedom Network, Transgender Education Network of Texas):
SB 12, the Drag Ban, has gone through a lot of changes recently. After language explicitly mentioning drag was removed from the bill, we’d like to explain why this bill is still bad for Texas.
We want to be clear, just because the House version doesn’t specifically mention drag, this doesn’t mean the final law won’t explicitly ban drag. This bill started as a drag ban, and at its core, this bill has always been an attack on LGBTQIA+ Texans. Drag is an artistic way to challenge gender norms and create safe spaces for people who don’t fit neatly into gender stereotypes. Even before the bill has passed, we are already seeing a chilling effect around drag performances. One lesbian bar in Houston was denied insurance because they regularly host drag shows.
No matter what the final language looks like, the Attorney General will have the authority to enforce this bill. And we’ve already seen how eagerly he pushes the limits of the law to target the LGBTQIA+ community. Looking at his record, there’s no reason to believe he’ll even read the bill before doing whatever serves his political interests.
If passed, SB 12 could have devastating consequences not only for the LGBTQIA+ community but for art across the state. Imagine Pride without drag queens, theater without romance, and choreography without chemistry. It’s already difficult for small-town Pride celebrations across Texas to access venues and facilities, but SB 12 could create additional barriers to creating the safe spaces that LGBTQIA+ Texans desperately need. This bill directly infringes upon our freedom of expression and opens a dark chapter in American history that should cause alarm for every single Texan.
This bill started as an attack on the LGBTQIA+ community, and it continues to perpetuate the idea that there’s something scandalous or taboo about the lives of LGBTQIA+ people. We can all agree that we don’t want children to be exposed to harmful content. But this bill isn’t designed to protect children, it’s designed to suppress the LGBTQIA+ community.
We have documented over 20 incidents against drag throughout the state, many of which included armed protestors and white nationalists with anti-semetic nazi symbolism. Texans are already subjected to these dangerous displays without the existence of a bill rooted in shutting down joyful celebrations of our community.
We’re not going to pretend this bill isn’t harmful, just because the language changed a little. We’ve been around long enough to spot a wolf in sheep’s clothing.