Republicans in Montana have made a bold move by banning drag queens from reading books to children in libraries and schools. Governor Greg Gianforte, a Republican, signed Montana HB 359 into law, with over half of the state legislature supporting the bill. The new law prohibits minors from attending sexually oriented shows.
Under the legislation, schools and libraries receiving state funding are prohibited from hosting sexually oriented performances or drag story hours during regular operating hours or any school-sanctioned extracurricular activity. Minors who attend such performances now have the right to bring legal action against those who promote or participate in these shows, as stated in the bill.
Republican Rep. Braxton Mitchell, the bill’s sponsor, expressed his concerns, stating that there is no such thing as a “family-friendly” drag show. He argued that drag shows targeted at children were part of a “sick agenda” and could have a detrimental impact on a child’s psychology and general well-being.
Governor Gianforte echoed these sentiments when signing the bill, asserting that it is highly inappropriate for young kids, especially preschoolers and elementary school students, to be exposed to sexualized content. The bill passed in the Republican-controlled House, but not without opposition from Democrats who attempted to amend the legislation. Their efforts were ultimately defeated, as the intent of the bill remained intact.
The concept of drag queens reading to children has been promoted for several years, with the “Drag Queen Story Hour” initiative gaining traction in San Francisco and New York as early as 2016. Advocates claim that these events provide positive role models and promote gender fluidity and inclusivity. However, conservatives in Montana believe that such performances sexualize children and have long-lasting psychological effects.
By implementing this ban, Montana Republicans aim to protect the innocence and well-being of children, ensuring that libraries and schools remain focused on educational and age-appropriate content. The debate surrounding the influence of drag queen story hours continues to generate controversy and highlights the divergent perspectives on gender and child development.