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US state bans drag storytime

Republicans in America have continued to clamp down on queer performers with Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signing a bill effectively banning all drag story times in the state, writes Holly Hazlewood.

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It comes as the latest attack on the freedom of speech against artists who have previously been allowed to read books to children at schools and public libraries. 

HB359, which was signed into law late May, prevents children from attending ‘sexually orientated shows’ and attending “obscene performances” in public spaces. 

Gianforte’s bill also includes specific language targeting story times and other learning activities intended for those under-18 hosted by drag queens or kings. 

Montana’s bill is the latest of at least 417 anti-LGBTQIA+ proposed or finalised pieces of legislation put before states across America this year; with Tennessee and Florida also enacting harsh laws designed to restrict access to public spaces and health care for those in America’s queer community. 

The push in 2023 drastically overshadows the amount of anti-queer legislation introduced in 2022, which saw 180 bills submitted; a nearly 1000 per cent increase since 2018. 

Republicans say their dramatic push to ban drag shows is designed to stop children from being exposed to performances they say are sexually explicit and feature images and themes not appropriate for those under-18. 

2023 is the first-year anti-drag specific bills have been launched in America, with the rights of other parts of the LGBTQIA+ community long having been under attack with health care, education and bathrooms all being common battlegrounds recently.