2 Bills Aim to Ban Public Drag Performances in Oklahoma

KTUL - March 7, 2023 6:50 am

House Bill 2186 and Senate Bill 503 aim to ban public drag performances in Oklahoma.

American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma says these bills are “unhinged attempts to remove 2S LGBTQ+ people from everyday public life.”

“These bans are being fueled by the same paranoia as book bans, as the censoring of teachers from teaching a complete history of the United States,” Cindy Nguyen, Policy Director of ACLU OK, said.

House Bill 2186 bans the public performance of “adult cabaret,” including drag shows if it is “harmful to minors.”

Senate Bill 503 prohibits “a public display of lewd acts or obscene material in a public place including but not limited to parades, shows, concerts, plays, or any other activity where a minor could witness,” but does not specifically mention drag performances.

“Although this bill does not specifically mention drag, the spirit of this bill will ban drag shows in public spaces,” Nguyen said. “Senator Bullard during debate himself said this bill was a result of a drag show he heard about in Bartlesville.”

“We did actually see it out in a rural area in Bartlesville earlier which is what started us looking at what are we doing and allowing out of these public places,” Senator David Bullard (R) said.

Nguyen said politicians often find a scapegoat to blame and this session is trans people and drag performers.

“We are consistently hearing trans and nonbinary people who do not feel safe in this state when it comes to medical bans when it comes to drag shows, of not being able to fully show up as themselves,” Nguyen said. “We have heard stories of pride parades being impacted by these bans.”

She said drag is a creative form of expression.

“Just like dance, fashion, and music, and that is all protected under the first amendment,” Nguyen said.

Both bills have advanced to the floor for full consideration.

If these bills go into effect, then public drag shows would be considered felonies punishable by up to two years in jail or a $20,000 fine.

NewsChannel 8 reached out to both Senate Bill 503 author Senator David Bullard and House Bill 2186 author Rep. Kevin West multiple times about their intentions behind the bills, but they were not able to accommodate interviews.


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