By Bless A.I.
As if there weren’t more pressing matters facing Kentucky residents (like flood relief in Appalachia or childhood hunger), the Kentucky General Assembly presented legislation to ban drag performances on public property or any place where people under the age of 18 may be present. Under the proposed bill, any person found performing drag on public property or any place where people under 18 are present may be charged with anything from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class D felony.
Many students on campus are particularly confused by the proposed bill. One student, who wishes to remain anonymous, expressed their discontent, saying, “there are so many other ways to protect children; drag shows should be the least of their concerns.” Another student echoed support for the legislation, citing belief in drag’s “risqué” tendencies.
SB 115, titled “AN ACT relating to adult performances,” is sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Tichenor. Tichenor stresses that the bill isn’t hateful but is intended to “restrict these kinds of adult performances to adults.”
However, those in opposition to this bill may soon be able to release a sigh of relief due to increasing speculation that the bill will not become law. This speculation is based on Kentucky having a part-time legislature. Because of this, the bill may fail simply because there is not enough time left in the 2023 regular session to hold several readings of the bill and vote on it, as the Kentucky constitution mandates.
While drag performances may not be appropriate for all audiences, the attempt to legislate against them raises crucial questions about the limits of free expression and the role of the government in promoting tolerance, acceptance, and diversity. As debates over LGBTQ+ rights continue to unfold, similar bills will be debated across legislative branches nationwide.
If SB 115 does not pass, bills of this nature will likely be proposed in the future. SB 115 further highlights Kentucky’s deepening partisanship and the ongoing struggle between government encroachment on free expression and citizens’ personal freedoms.