Montana became the first state in the union to ban reading events for children utilizing drag queens. So-called drag queen story hours have become increasingly popular, especially in cities and states that are primarily run by Democrats.
Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) signed the bill into law this week.
The law bars minors from attending “obscene performances on public property” or state-funded libraries or schools.
The law establishes that such drag queen story hours cannot occur at any “school-sanctioned extracurricular activity.”
Furthermore, the statute lays out penalties for performing or promoting such an event. Should a Montana school, library or public employee engage in such a story hour, they face potential suspension.
If the offending employee had been previously suspended “proceedings must be initiated to permanently revoke” the employee’s license or certificate.
🚨BREAKING: Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte just signed HB359 from @MTFreedomCaucus member Rep. Braxton Mitchell into law that bans minors from attending sexualized shows on public property and bans drag queen story hours in schools and libraries that receive taxpayer dollars.
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) May 22, 2023
The law allows for minors who attend such a performance to “bring an action against a person who knowingly promotes, conducts or participates in the performance.”
The new law also allows a minor’s parent to do the same in their child’s name. Violators accused under the clause face civil lawsuits as well as “statutory damages of $5,000.”
Such drag events have occurred in the Treasure State, including one at ZooMontana in Billings last year.
The changes to Montana’s law come at a time of increasing debate over the role of LGBT-related issues, especially for children. A number of often Republican-led states have restricted gender changes for minors.
Furthermore, the singer Lizzo criticized a Nebraska law barring such gender reassignment treatments during a concert in the state.
Montana recently made national news for another first-in-the-nation law. Gianforte signed a bill that banned the popular video app TikTok in the state last week.
The app, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, is challenging the new law in court.
The governor echoed concerns from Montana legislators and a number of other states and federal agencies that the app is being used to collect data on Americans. This data, Gianforte said, could be used by Beijing.
He said, “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.”