Legislative Update: Drag Performers Could Face Felony Charges

Jul 8, 2024

Share on Social

Drag Performances Take the Spotlight Next Week

The piece of legislation we are most closely engaging with this session is HB 1518 (Hudson). This bill would allow political, ideological, or religious organizations to be recognized groups and access funds and resources of the university or college. This includes student tuition and activity fees that are paid by the students who are being excluded. There is a strong misconception among elected officials regarding the discriminatory danger of a law like this, and the hostile environment school campuses will be sanctioned to become. This bill is expected to be brought forward for House debate soon, and we must stop it from being voted out to the Senate.

Last week, Missouri higher education and graduate degree students joined us to speak with elected leaders across the aisle regarding their experiences as a student participating in student activities. Are you a student or know a student who might be interested in speaking with lawmakers? If so, reach out to me, Shira Berkowitz, directly at shira@promomissouri.org. We look forward to engaging more students and building deeper relationships to collectively stop this bill. 

TL;DR — Here are the FOUR steps to take action this week:

  1. Sign up to testify with PROMO against HB 1650, the drag performing ban, at noon on Wednesday, March 6.
  2. Unable to join us on Wednesday? Submit written testimony against HB 1650 through the House website.
  3. Support community members testifying in-person by donating $30 for gas cards to help offset travel costs.
  4. Higher education students — share your stories about how student clubs and activities has impacted you and the leadership skills you’ve developed. 

HB 1650 (Christensen), a drag performing ban, will have a hearing at noon on Wednesday, March 6 in the House Special Committee on Public Policy.

Under this bill, any commercial business (nightclub, bar, restaurant, etc.) that allows a drag performance would be deemed a sexually-explicit business subject to the zoning and other restrictions that are imposed on such businesses. It also states that anyone who participates in a drag performance open to the public, at a child-friendly venue, faces felony charges.

Drag performers and business owners have a right to offer these performances. Missouri families have a First Amendment right to attend these events and have the right to control their children’s religious and moral upbringing. We need your voices to join us at the State Capitol at noon on Wednesday, March 6, so sign up to testify with us this Wednesday!

We’re asking you to show up in Jefferson City with us this upcoming Wednesday, but we know not everyone will be able to attend in-person. For this reason, here are two additional ways you can support:

  1. Submit written testimony against HB 1650, the drag performing ban,by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, March 6 through the House website.
  2. Support our community members testifying in-person by donating $30 for us to purchase gas cards to help offset their costs.

Transgender, nonbinary, and intersex people want what we all want — the freedom to be able to go about their lives free from harassment and discrimination. However, movement on two different bills this week retargeted these communities and their ability to thrive within our state.

Last week, the Senate started moving bills forward, and in debate on SB 862 (a bill regarding children’s division benefits for children in their division), Sen. Moon added an amendment that would ban gender-affirming health care in Missouri. Sen. Razer quickly called him out, pointing to this topic having nothing to do with the underlying bill, and the bill was laid over back onto the informal calendar. We know it’s challenging to listen to our rights continuously  being bargained away and slipped into conversations. However, we have staunch allies protecting our rights — many senators who will not stand for this debate.

Another bill moved in the House General Laws Committee that our community testified against. HB 2309, a bill that would re-define the term “sex,” passed out of this committee and now awaits being assigned to a House Rules committee for further discussion.

This bill is a Trojan horse for those trying to use government power to control transgender people’s lives. Furthermore, this legislation dehumanizes women. It defines women in a way that reduces them to their reproductive organs and their ability to bear children. Women have made decades of important progress fighting back against sex-based stereotypes. This bill could undo much of that progress, turning back the clock and reversing generations of established legal protections for women.  We are following this bill closely, and will share more regarding next actions that can be taken to stop it.