In a recent development, Montana’s Republican governor, Greg Gianforte, signed HB 359 into law, effectively banning drag queens from reading books to children at libraries and schools. The bill garnered substantial support within the state legislature, with over half of its members cosponsoring the legislation. The move has sparked debates surrounding the appropriateness of sexually oriented performances and their impact on children’s well-being.
The newly enacted bill, Montana HB 359, imposes restrictions on sexually oriented performances, specifically targeting drag story hour events. It states that schools or libraries receiving state funding are prohibited from hosting sexually oriented performances during regular operating hours or school-sanctioned extracurricular activities. Furthermore, the legislation allows minors who attend such performances to bring legal action against individuals involved in organizing or participating in the event. The bill’s sponsor, Republican Representative Braxton Mitchell, expressed concerns about drag shows being specifically aimed at children, referring to them as part of a “sick agenda” that may have detrimental effects on a child’s psychology and general welfare.
🚨BREAKING: Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte just signed HB359 from @MTFreedomCaucus member Rep. Braxton Mitchell into law that bans minors from attending sexualized shows on public property and bans drag queen story hours in schools and libraries that receive taxpayer dollars.
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) May 22, 2023
Supporters of the bill argue that drag performances, especially those targeted at children, contain sexually explicit content that is inappropriate for young audiences. They believe that exposing children to such content may negatively impact their psychological well-being. Proponents further emphasize the need to protect children from premature exposure to adult-oriented themes, asserting that it is the responsibility of schools and libraries to provide safe and age-appropriate environments for young learners.
Opponents of the bill, primarily Democrats, contend that equating drag performances with sexualizing children is a mischaracterization. They argue that drag queen story hours offer children an opportunity to explore gender fluidity, celebrate diversity, and challenge rigid gender norms. Advocates of drag queen story hours argue that these events promote inclusivity and provide positive role models for children, fostering an environment where individuals are free to express themselves authentically.