Rep. Todd’s Bill To Outlaw Drag Shows In Public Spaces Passes Out Of Committee

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The Tennessee Conservative [By Kelly M. Jackson] –

Yesterday, at a hearing that was at times contentious, The House Criminal Justice Committee met to hear HB0009. The bill, if signed into law, will effectively outlaw displays that include drag shows from being allowed to be performed in public spaces where minors could be exposed.

The bill advanced to the Calendar and Rules Committee, the next step in the bill becoming law in the state of Tennessee. 

HB0009, sponsored by Rep. Chris Todd (R-Madison County-District 73), as introduced, creates an offense for a person who engages in an adult cabaret performance on public property or in a location where the adult cabaret performance could be viewed by a person who is not an adult. – Amends TCA Title 7, Chapter 51, Part 14.

The room was full, as those who were left with no place to sit, were asked to either find a seat, or remove themselves to the hallway to watch the hearing on the monitors, indicating that this issue has been one that has ignited a firestorm of controversy, even here in Tennessee, generally known to be a very conservative state. 

There were six people in attendance that were slated to testify for both sides, those opposed having an opportunity to present their arguments to the bill first. 

Among them was Abby Rubenfeld, a Nashville civil rights law attorney speaking on behalf of the Tennessee Pride Chamber of Commerce, argued that the necessity for the bill is non-existent, since the law already addresses the type of conduct that this bill articulates, if the conduct is carried out in public spaces.

Ms. Rubenfeld argued that if anyone, dressed in drag or not, conducts themselves in a way that the state of Tennessee has legally identified as “obscene” then those persons will be arrested and charged with the crimes the law compels them to be charged with.

However, an example that would serve as evidence to the contrary, would be Franklin Pride which was held on June 4th, 2022 held at Harlinsdale park, in Franklin, and permitted by the City of Franklin.

During that event, a drag show was performed, with some acts that can only be characterized as sexually charged in nature, with dollar bills being collected from some of the children who were in attendance. All of this activity was captured on video and posted to social media, and is still available.

As far as is known, none of the individuals who participated in that performance were ever charged.

According to the current law which states: “An adult-oriented establishment or adult cabaret shall not locate within one thousand feet (1,000′) of a childcare facility, a private, public, or charter school, a public park, family recreation center, a residence, or a place of worship.” Those individuals were and should have been subject to criminal consequences, according to Ms. Rubenfeld’s argument in her testimony. 

However, because the law refers more to the type of establishment itself, rather than focusing on the activity therein, the law is now being amended to include specific language that makes the specific conduct illegal, if performed in public spaces, without the need for the conduct to be carried out in a business that provides these types of performances.  

A distinction that many feel is needed in order to keep children from being exposed to inappropriate sexual conduct.

Others in attendance included advocates from groups such as Gays Against Groomers, who argued that the insistence of drag shows being performed not just in the presence of, but with the inclusion of children, has caused the term “groomers” to be newly associated with the gay community when the association had over the years, all but died out. 

Landon Starbuck, from her own organization that fights against the sexualization of children, Freedom Forever, also spoke.

Mrs. Starbuck said, “This past year, I have been exposing this new toxic trend of exposing children to adult sexually charged entertainment. Many child protection advocates have discovered a pattern with these events popping up all over the state and the country. The pervasive themes we’ve documented included subjecting children to grown adults stripping clothing, rubbing their genitalia, simulating sex positions, spreading their legs in front of children, making sexually charged comments about their genitalia, grinding, gyrating, spanking, and exposing their undergarments, knowing children are present. These things have occurred all while being called “family friendly”. I don’t need a PhD to tell us that children mimic the behavior that they are exposed to.” 

Starbuck continued, that not only does this exposure influence children, and normalize the behavior, but those children then witness the monetary rewards and adulation from the audience the performers are given for using their bodies in such an exploitative fashion, and it’s “either right or wrong morally, and it’s either tolerated or not tolerated by the law.” 

The bill was recommended for passage to the Calendar and Rules Committee, all those present having voted yes, with the exception of Democrat Representatives G.A. Hardaway and Gloria Johnson requesting that their No votes be recorded.  

The Calendar and Rules Committee will schedule the bill to be heard on the House floor.

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.

2 thoughts on “Rep. Todd’s Bill To Outlaw Drag Shows In Public Spaces Passes Out Of Committee

  • February 15, 2023 at 7:28 pm

    Good job Rep Todd…finally the kids win one!! You are 1 politician ACTUALLY doing the work in Nashville we sent you there for!! As you and your staff already know it’s about honesty, integrity and keeping your promise. Not the pay day and party. Falling off bar stools is not why TN tax dollars are collected. Perhaps your democrat peers should take note.


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