Montana has become the first state in the union to ban drag queen story hour for children from public schools and libraries.
Signed by Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte on Monday, the new bill essentially prevents children from attending “sexually oriented shows” and watching obscene performances on public property. The law further defines Drag Queen Story Hour as “an event hosted by a drag queen or drag king who reads children’s books and engages in other learning activities with minor children present.”
Republicans have long maintained drag shows targeted at children expose minors to sexually mature content that is inappropriate for young ages. LGBTQ advocates decried the law as an attack on their community.
“Montana’s new law criminalizing freedom of expression and art should be a red flag for everyone. The moral panic of drag has too long been a scapegoat for transmisogyny and overall transphobia in this country,” Jonathan Hamilt, the executive director of Drag Story Hour, told CNN.
“Uncle Sam needs a makeover and our drag community is here to create one,” Hamilt added.
Other states have issued their own bans or regulations on drag performances targeting children, but Montana represents the first by singling out Drag Queen Story Hour. As Quartz noted:
The new law, passed on Monday (May 22), builds on recent legislation in Florida and Tennessee that aims to restrict who can attend drag performances that are deemed adult entertainment. However, Montana’s law goes a step further by banning drag queen story hours, which the bill designates as different than “sexually oriented” drag performances.
Montana’s new law defines a drag queen as: “a male or female performer who adopts a flamboyant or parodic feminine persona with glamorous or exaggerated costumes and makeup.”
The law also defines ‘drag kings’ as performers who adopt a flamboyant male persona, opening up the potential for guests at any number of library or school events to inadvertently break the law, like at an event where Snow White reads German fairy tales or a student concert covering David Bowie hits.
As Breitbart News reported, Montana also became the first state in the union to ban the Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok, fearing its connection to the communist-controlled government could compromise people’s privacy. When issuing the ban, Republican Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte said the law would “protect Montanans’ personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party.”
“The Chinese Communist Party using TikTok to spy on Americans, violate their privacy, and collect their personal, private, and sensitive information is well-documented,” Gianforte said.
“Today, Montana takes the most decisive action of any state to protect Montanans’ private data and sensitive personal information from being harvested by the Chinese Communist Party,” the governor added.
In response, TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwette said in a statement that Gianforte “has signed a bill that infringes on the First Amendment rights of the people of Montana by unlawfully banning TikTok, a platform that empowers hundreds of thousands of people across the state.”
“We want to reassure Montanans that they can continue using TikTok to express themselves, earn a living, and find community as we continue working to defend the rights of our users inside and outside Montana,” she said.