Recently “RuPaul’s Drag Race” began its 15th season on television. Long familiar at gay bars, drag has been pushed more into the mainstream, due to the popularity of “RuPaul’s Drag Race”. Drag-queen story hours also now take place in libraries across the country. Parents take children to hear books with titles like “Be Who You Are”, read aloud by people in drag. Supporters say the readings promote self-acceptance, diversity, and tolerance.

Meanwhile, lawmakers across the country are engaged in a different sort of race: to restrict drag performances in the name of protecting children. At least 36 bills in 15 states are proposing rules that make it harder for people to perform in drag.

Some states, including Texas, are seeking to classify any venue hosting a drag show as a “sexually oriented business”, which brings costs and restrictions on where it can be located. Arkansas is among states also trying to prevent public funds from going to drag shows. This is a reaction to the news that some cities have used taxpayer money to sponsor drag-queen story hour. New York City reportedly spent around $200,000 on it from 2018 to 2022.

In Missouri, North Dakota, and Tennessee, exposing a minor to performance would become a felony, which carries jail time.