The Rundown

Ohio House Republicans introduce law to ban drag shows outside of adult entertainment venues

By: - July 19, 2023 4:50 am
Drag queens ride on a float during a Stonewall Pride parade. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Drag queens ride on a float during a Stonewall Pride parade. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Two Ohio Republican lawmakers have introduced legislation that would ban drag performers from working anywhere that isn’t designated as an adult entertainment facility. The way the law is written, it would also appear to ban any theatrical performance where a character wears clothing opposite gender at birth.

House Bill 245 prohibits “adult cabaret performances in locations other than adult cabarets,” and adds to the definition of adult cabaret performances “performers or entertainers who exhibit a gender identity that is different from the performer’s or entertainer’s gender assigned at birth.” This means that drag queens and kings can only perform at places like an “adult” cabaret, an “adult” theater or a “sexual encounter establishment.”

It was introduced by state Reps. Angie King (R-Celina), Josh Williams (R-Oregon) and is co-sponsored by 41 other Republican House members.

The bill lumps drag performers in with acts that are “harmful to juveniles or obscene,” such as strippers and topless dancers.

People found guilty of performing in the presence of someone under 18 would get a misdemeanor of the first degree. If the performance involved is obscene, a violation is a felony of the fifth degree. It is unclear what this means since all drag performing would be considered obscene under the proposed law.

If someone present at the drag performance is under 13 years old, the performer would get a felony of the fourth degree under the proposed law.

States have been banning or limiting drag shows due to unsubstantiated fears of danger for kids. This idea has been introduced in at least 14 other GOP-led states.

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Morgan Trau
Morgan Trau

Morgan Trau is a political reporter and multimedia journalist based out of the WEWS Columbus Bureau. A graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Trau has previously worked as an investigative, political and fact-checking reporter in Grand Rapids, Mich. at WZZM-TV; a reporter and MMJ in Spokane, Wash. at KREM-TV and has interned at 60 Minutes and worked for CBS Interactive and PBS NewsHour.