HELENA, Mont. — After being amended in conference committee, a bill intended to ban minors from attending drag shows returns to the House floor.
On a party line vote last week, the committee changed references in House Bill 359 of “adult oriented” to “sexually-oriented" and inserted wording that explicitly prohibits drag story hours in schools and libraries that receive public funding. The bill also now has an immediate effective date.
On Monday, the House voted 65-35 to adopt the changes on second reading, with three Republicans joining the 32 Democrats in voting no.
The bill also now includes definitions of drag king and drag queen, which opponents consider to be subjective and broad, while also arguing that there is no evidence of drag story hours being sexual. Supporters say this bill is one of many they have pushed meant to protect children, and claim the drag story hour events are inappropriate for young Montanans.
“When these folks try to perform in schools and libraries, it’s usually conducted in a very sexual manner, just simply do a Google search and you’ll find these examples,” said the bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Braxton Mitchell (R-Columbia Falls).
“These definitions don’t work. We don’t define glamorous, we don’t define flamboyant. They are broad and subject to a lot of different types of interpretation,” said State Rep. SJ Howell (D-Missoula).
The bill will go through one more House vote on Tuesday, and will also have to be approved by the Senate. Advocates in the LGBTQ community say they intend to sue to block the bill if it becomes law.