Daily Mail

First US state bans drag acts ‘to protect children from sexualised entertainm­ent’

- From Daniel Bates in New York

THE state of Tennessee has become the first in the US to ban drag shows – claiming it will spare children from ‘sexualised’ performanc­es.

The law forbids the staging of ‘adult cabaret’ shows in the Republican controlled and largely conservati­ve state.

It was passed despite Republican governor Bill Lee facing criticism over a newly resurfaced school photo which appears to show him in drag. At least 14 other states are also considerin­g similar measures as Republican­s wade into the culture wars on what they see as a winning issue.

Events such as drag storytime, where drag queens read books to children, are the latest faultline in America’s struggle with gender identity politics. Armed protesters have even turned up at events.

The Tennessee law defines adult cabaret as featuring topless, go-go or exotic dancers, strippers and male or female impersonat­ors ‘who provide entertainm­ent that appeals to a prurient interest’.

A spokesman for Mr Lee said it protects children from ‘obscene, sexualised entertainm­ent’ but the White House and civil liberties groups condemned the ban. The uncaptione­d 1977 photo of Mr Lee apparently in drag shows a man in a cheerleade­r’s outfit with a wig and necklace.

Asked about the image, Mr Lee did not deny it was him but said: ‘What a ridiculous question. Conflating something like that to sexualised entertainm­ent in front of children which is a serious subject.’

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