Iowa bill would ban minors from drag shows


(The Center Square) – Legislators advanced a bill Wednesday that would make it a misdemeanor to bring a minor to a drag show in Iowa.

The bill, currently labeled Senate File 2176, would also enable a parent or guardian of a minor to bring a civil action against someone who has “knowingly disseminated or exhibited obscene material” to their child.

Members of the Local Government subcommittee heard public comments for and against the proposed legislation brought forward by Sen. Sandy Salmon, R-Janesville.

“I don’t believe an obscene performance has any place in a child’s life. Period,” said Salmon. “This shouldn’t even be a contest and I don’t see how anybody could argue the opposite viewpoint. And I don’t believe it has any place in a child’s life no matter where a child is located.”

Among subcommittee members, the primary concern lay with the civil suit portion of the bill with questions regarding who could be held legally responsible.

According to the bill’s text, any person who “knowingly exposes a minor to an obscene performance is guilty of a public offense and shall, upon conviction, be guilty of an aggravated misdemeanor.”

The bill also says a person who knowingly sells, gives, delivers, or provides a minor a pass or admits the minor into a performance would also be guilty of a “serious” misdemeanor.

While the bill did advance, lawmakers agreed work needed to be done to clarify language around who could face legal action if the bill were to go into effect.

Public comments submitted online were split, with 15 in favor and 10 opposed. Some commenters took issue with the entirety of the bill, calling it government overreach.

“Freedom of speech means we have the right to articulate our opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or legal sanction,” wrote Rachael Carlson. “The government should not be involved dictating the types of performances our children can attend, rather those decisions should be left to the parents. It’s government overreach. This bill is a distraction, and a waste of time and resources, which could be better spent focusing real on issues that actually impact Iowans like affordable childcare, access to healthcare, fixing our roads and bridges, and cleaning up our water.”

Others voiced their support, calling it a “sad reality” that legislation to protect minors from obscenity is necessary.

“Laws against exposing children to inappropriate content can help safeguard their innocence and promote their emotional wellbeing,” said Teri Patrick. “By prioritizing age-appropriate entertainment and in education, we can protect children from harm and foster a healthier environment for their growth.”

Submit a Comment