Drag Shows For Minors Are Illegal In All TN Counties But Shelby, So Why Are Blount & Sevier Counties Allowing It?

Image Credit: Sevier Lgbtqia2s+ & Allies Event Page / Facebook & Blount Pride / Facebook

The Tennessee Conservative [By Kelly M. Jackson] –

Despite guidance from AG Skrmetti’s office and clarification from one of the sponsors of the legislation banning drag shows where children may be present, it seems that there will be illegal drag performances carried out on September 2nd in at least two Tennessee counties. 

This past session, HB0009, sponsored by Representative Chris Todd (R-D73-Madison County) and companion Senate bill SB0003, sponsored by Senator Jack Johnson (R-D27-Williamson County) were passed which made performing a drag show on public property or in a place where anyone under the 18 could be exposed to the performance, illegal.

The reason it is illegal is because the legislation now includes male or female impersonators in the definition of what types of performers are consistent with an “adult cabaret performance”.  Adult cabaret performances are regulated by state law because the content they often feature is considered inappropriate for minors. 


Earlier this year, The Tennessee Conservative reported on other drag performances being offered by various companies at venues around the country as well as Tennessee, that did not restrict their audiences to people over 18, and those shows were found to be very sexually explicit despite their invitation to “all ages”. The exposure of this forced those shows to add an 18 and over restriction. 

On March 30th of this year, a lawsuit filed by a drag performance troop in Memphis in a federal district court, resulted in that judge granting a permanent injunction against the county law enforcement apparatuses, prohibiting the law from being implemented or enforced in that district, which is essentially Shelby County. The state and AG Skrmetti were removed as defendants in the case leaving Shelby County DA as the only defendant. You can read that ruling here.  

Essentially, a federal district court judge determined the argument that drag performers had a constitutional right to include minors as part of their audience as a valid one, and so in Shelby County alone, these types of performances will be permitted.  The only jurisdictional authority the judge has in that case, is within Shelby County. But, Tennessee has 94 other counties.    

The question now, is will the authorities in other counties enforce the new law if they are given evidence that it has been violated? 

There are two such examples in the near future based on information gathered from social media. 

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In Sevierville, there will be an event called “Queer In Sevier Variety Show”.  The event details came from a Facebook page called SevierLgbtqia2s+ & Allies Event Page, which indicates that the show is free, and all ages are welcome. The event takes place at the Sevier Civic Center, which is owned and operated by the city of Sevierville, or as the legislation defines it, “a public place”.  

Additionally, as demonstrated in the EventBrite ticket to reserve your seat, it indicates that it is an “all ages free show”.  The fact that this event will be held on public property, and feature male and female impersonators, with an invite for everyone including minors, indicates that this event has an intention to violate Tennessee state law.   

Grassroots organizations, who represent Sevier county, have spoken to The Tennessee Conservative and were told when they spoke to Mayor Robert Fox’s office about the event that the Mayor’s Office was not able to stop it because they had concerns about a lawsuit. The mayor’s office referred to the Shelby County ruling which doesn’t affect Sevier County. 

In Blount County, Blount County Pride will take place on the same day, September 2nd, at Clayton Center For The Arts, which is on the campus of Maryville College. While Maryville College is a private school, Blount County Pride has not only included Drag as part of their festival entertainment, but it appears to be something of a central feature, as evidenced by the schedule in the graphic. 

TCA § 7-51-1407 states : “An adult-oriented establishment or adult cabaret shall not locate within one thousand feet (1,000′) of a child care facility, a private, public, or charter school, a public park, family recreation center, a residence, or a place of worship.”  The reason for this, is because the places listed in the legislation are all places’ minors or children are likely to be present. According to Google maps, First Christian Church is about 400 feet from the college. 

It is for this reason with all other types of “cabaret” style entertainment, the venues that host it, are required by state law to obtain a permit, and be located in a place where they are beyond the 1,000-foot boundary requirements.

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However, in this past year’s general session, republican Senate committee members killed HB0030, which would have required any venues who wish to feature drag performers to be permitted in the same way as the rest of the businesses who host “cabaret” entertainment do.  

In other words, no pop-up drag revues in places where there may be children present.  The names of those Senators who voted to kill their version of the bill, SB0841, sponsored by Senator Joey Hensley (R-D28-Hohenwald), are missing from the record on the state legislator’s website.

However, the Tennessee Conservative found that Senator Hensley’s bill was killed in the State and Local Government Committee after not receiving a second motion to be heard, essentially making all members, other than the chairman, responsible the the bill’s failure to proceed.

Had HB0030/SB0841 passed, there would be no question, and an additional barrier for those who would wish to host an all ages drag show, to be able to simply feature one anytime, anywhere without the proper permits and verification that the show is being located outside the 1000 ft boundary the law requires. 

It would seem that despite a law being put into place for 94 of the 95 counties in Tennessee, there are at least two counties that will have their willingness to enforce that law tested. What they choose to do about it remains to be seen. 

We will continue to cover this story as it develops. 

About the Author: Kelly Jackson is a recent escapee from corporate America, and a California refugee to Tennessee. Christ follower, Wife and Mom of three amazing teenagers. She has a BA in Comm from Point Loma Nazarene University, and has a background in law enforcement and human resources. Since the summer of 2020, she has spent any and all free time in the trenches with local grassroots orgs, including Mom’s for Liberty Williamson County and Tennessee Stands as a core member.  Outspoken advocate for parents rights, medical freedom, and individual liberty. Kelly can be reached at kelly@tennesseeconservativenews.com.

4 thoughts on “Drag Shows For Minors Are Illegal In All TN Counties But Shelby, So Why Are Blount & Sevier Counties Allowing It?

  • August 28, 2023 at 4:37 pm

    Two reasons – no one is brave enough to step in and enforce the ban and ignorant parents believe they are showing their children how to be “tolerant”.

    • August 28, 2023 at 6:25 pm

      You are right Linda, No government officials brave enough to enforce this. Its about time we started taking action because the lefties are aggressive and attempting to trample all over us.

  • August 28, 2023 at 8:58 pm

    Many of our youth are confused about LGBT issues and want to be tolerant and loving. A wonderful resource is a video put out by The American Family Association called: In His Image, it deals compassionately with these issues while speaking truth. It can be found on YouTube for free,
    Also, Mass Resistance is an organization that helps parents and concerned citizens resist the agenda.

  • September 4, 2023 at 3:05 pm

    Skrmetti & Lee are a huge disappointment


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