GOP May Ban Kids From Plays, WWE Events In Attempt To Keep Them From Drag Shows

Tyler Breeze competes in the ring against Goldust at the Road to WrestleMania at the Lanxess Arena on February 11, 2016 in Cologne, Germany. (Photo by Marc Pfitzenreuter/Getty Images)

A new bill introduced in the Iowa Senate to ban anyone under the age of 18 from attending a drag show may also inadvertently ban kids from seeing some plays and musicals, pro wrestling events, the circus, or other live activities involving costumes and makeup.

Introduced by Sen. Sandy Salmon (R-Janesville), SF 348 bars youth from attending drag shows, and its definition of drag performer and drag show is broad enough that it could also apply to other forms of entertainment. 

According to the bill, a “performer who exhibits a gender identity that is different than the performers’ gender assigned at birth through the use of clothing, makeup, accessories, or other gender signifiers” would not be allowed to perform in front of minors if the performance includes the “performer singing, lip-syncing, dancing, reading, or otherwise performing before an audience for entertainment whether or not performed for payment.”

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By that definition, anyone under 18 would not be allowed to see “Mrs. Doubtfire” the musical. Based on Robin Williams’ movie of the same name, “Mrs. Doubtfire” is a comedy about an out-of-work actor who pretends to be a Scottish nanny so that he can stay active in his kids’ lives.

The bill would also limit which plays or musicals schools could put on, since a number of productions feature characters who cross-dress or are intentionally written for an actor to pretend to be another gender.

For example, last year, Creston High School’s drama club put on the comedy “Taming the Wild West in a Dress,” an action-comedy about a young actor named Clarance Rawlins who moves to Luck Lady, Nevada, and through a serious misunderstanding, has to pretend to be British socialite named Lady Claire Rawl. That performance would be prohibited under this law.

Salmon’s proposal could even apply to professional wrestling, a performance event where many of the characters wear makeup and/or flamboyant costumes and perform a choreographed match.

The legislation does not offer any exceptions for parents who are OK with their children attending what the bill defines as a drag show. Anyone over the age of 18 who brings a minor to a drag show would be “guilty of a simple misdemeanor,” an apparent departure from the typical criminal justice process involving charges being filed, hearings, indictments, and trials or plea bargains. The bill says nothing about due process and fails to expand upon how someone could be found automatically guilty of a misdemeanor.

There would also be punishments for businesses or venues that host a drag show where a minor is present. A business would be fined $10,000 for each minor in attendance and whoever planned the event at the business would be “guilty of a serious misdemeanor.”

This bill also prevents state agencies or public entities that receive state funds from hosting drag shows. This is likely in response to the Ankeny Gay Straight Alliance hosting a non-school-sanctioned, after-hours drag show last year and public libraries hosting drag queen story hours.

The legislation would also prohibit powder puff football games, or events such as Ankeny’s “Spice Boys,” a decades-long tradition in which football players dressed up as cheerleaders and performed a choreographed dance routine during mandatory homecoming assemblies. 

It would also prevent college clubs from hosting drag shows on campus, even though most of those attending would be over the age of 18, since those clubs would be affiliated with an entity that receives state funds.

Lastly, a parent or guardian could sue for damages between $10,000-$50,000 for any violation listed in this bill.


by Ty Rushing

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3 Comments on "GOP May Ban Kids From Plays, WWE Events In Attempt To Keep Them From Drag Shows"

  • I watched the film SOME LIKE IT HOT several decades ago when I was under eighteen. With my parents. Which meant spending about ninety minutes watching Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis in drag. Fortunately, the only strong impact I remember is laughing so hard I almost fell on the floor.

    Senator Sandy Salmon, you have outdone yourself with this ridiculous bill. And remembering your past record, that is saying a lot.

  • OF course this is hateful and bonkers. Salmon’s brain must be a terrifying place. Unfortunately, Iowa is the place where crazy legislation like this passes.
    The language in this bill also seems to make just ‘performing while trans’ in any way illegal if kids are present. I’m thinking of the high school band concert that I went to last week where a few of the kids wore the uniform tuxes instead of the dresses. It was NO BIG DEAL, they looked and sounded great.
    I know it wasn’t written for any logical reason except to disappear people from public view and dehumanize them, but I keep trying to make some sense of the hate. There is none.

  • Now I remember that decades ago, when I was in high school, students had to join the marching band if we wanted to be eligible for the concert band. And the marching band director was determined to make all the marching band members look as much alike as possible, and also look male.

    So he made all the girls buy and wear mens’ ties, shirts, socks, and shoes as parts of their band uniforms. The girls were also required to push all their hair up under their hats, no matter how long it was. Essentially, all the girls in the marching band were in drag for all of every performance.

    The band director didn’t allow any drum majorettes or baton twirlers or anything “female” that would distract watchers from his “all-male” marching band. His thinking was rather twisted, I now realize. Like the thinking of Sandy Salmon.

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