LINCOLN, Neb. – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Nebraska says state senators should reject a bill that would effectively ban all-ages drag show events. The civil rights organization says the bill is an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment right to free speech.
Nebraska State Sen. Dave Murman introduced LB 371 this morning. The bill would ban anyone under 19 years old from attending drag shows and anyone under 21 if alcohol is being served at the venue. Under the bill, parents, guardians or others who bring youth to a drag show event would be criminally charged and face up to one year in jail, up to a $1,000 fine or both. Host businesses or organizations would be fined $10,000.
Jane Seu, ACLU of Nebraska legal & policy counsel, issued this statement in response to the bill’s introduction.
“Let’s call this what it is — an unconstitutional censorship attempt rooted in a coordinated national effort to push LGBTQ+ people out of public life,” Seu said. “Drag is a visual expression and creative celebration of LGBTQ+ culture. It has been a part of the creative community for centuries and this bill would have far-reaching implications on the historical tradition of artistic freedom. All-ages shows are protected the same as any other artistic performance. Families have a First Amendment right to attend these events and performers and venues have a right to offer them.”
State Senators Albrecht, Brewer, Clements, Erdman, Halloran, Holdcroft, Kauth and Lippincott cosponsored the bill.