Montana has officially become the first state to prohibit schools and libraries from hosting "drag queen story hours" for children, according to a new piece of legislation passed Monday and signed into law by Gov. Greg Gianforte.
According to the bill, “drag story hour” events for children, in which a drag queen - a biological male dressed up in women's costume attire - “reads children’s books and engages in other learning activities with minor children present,” will no longer be allowed in the state of Montana. Libraries or schools violating this new policy will be fined $5,000 and the teacher or administrator involved will be suspended for one year, when applicable.
Under the law, a minor who attends such a performance (or the minor’s parent or legal guardian) can bring an action against any of the organizers or collaborators of the event.
Related: Mississippi Mom Sues School For Not Letting Her Trans Kid Wear a Dress To Graduation
The law is born out of the long-held conservative belief that drag shows targeting children impose damaging images of sexually mature content on them that are inappropriate for minors. Of course, LGBTQ+ advocates, on the other hand, claim this new piece of legislation unfairly attacks their community. Jonathan Hamilt, the executive director of Drag Story Hour, told CNN that the new legislation is a “criminalization of expression.”
“The moral panic of drag has too long been a scapegoat for transmisogyny and overall transphobia in this country,” Hamilt said.
Multiple states have introduced legislation about drag performances targeted at children, but Montana is the first to specifically address drag story hour events. The passage of this law follows Gianforte’s signing of a bill on Friday that defines a person’s sex as only male or female based on their biology.
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