‘Bounty Hunter’ Drag Ban Would Let Children Sue Drag Queens

Anyone under 18 taken to a drag show would be able to sue a performer for “psychological, emotional, economic and physical harm.”

Texas Republican Steve Toth has taken the attack on drag shows and trans people in Texas to another level. This week, he introduced House Bil 4378 (HB 4378) which would ban those under 18 from attending drag shows of “a sexual nature.” Not only that, it would allow kids who were taken to drag shows to sue the performer for “actual damages”, including “psychological, emotional, economic and physical harm.” A successful claim could be a payout of up to $5,000. LGBTQ+ advocates are calling the bill a “bounty hunter drag ban.”

HB 4378 defines a drag show as “performer exhibits a gender that is different than the performer’s gender recorded at birth,” which would mean any trans person performing would be counted as “drag.”

Trans activist and reporter Erin Reed tweeted about the implications of this bill passing for trans people: “These bounties can easily be turned against trans performers. This bill would likely ban Kim Petras from performing in Texas, for instance. It could ban a trans person singing karaoke. It could ban Pride.”

This is not the only bill that has been proposed in Texas that is specifically targeting drag shows and trans people. A few days before Toth introduced HB 4378, state representative Bryan Slaton filed House Bill 4129 (HB 4129) to stop “erotic drag performances” which he thinks are “sweeping” the state. HB 4129 is seeking to make performing drag in front of children a felony.

Both of these bills, and most of the other anti-drag and anti-trans bills that have been introduced, are submitted under the guise of “protecting children.” The tactics of these bills mirror tactics used in anti-abortion bills that have been introduced, incentivizing others to turn in people who have abortions and claiming it is to protect children.

In February, Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas, made a statement to GLAAD that anti-LGBTQ+ Texas lawmakers “are pursuing an agenda that attacks Texas families, neighbors, youth, and fellow community members who are simply trying to live and thrive in our state.”

“LGBTQ+ Texans deserve to have peace, safety, and leaders who will prioritize improving the lives of Texans,” Martinez added.

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