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Bill aiming to regulate drag performances defeated in committee

C.J. Keene

A bill aiming to further regulate drag performances in South Dakota was killed in the Senate Education committee.

Senate Bill 184 would have found any such performer “singing, speaking, dancing, acting, simulating or pantomiming and exhibiting a gender identity different from the performers biological sex” in the presence of minors to be guilty of disseminating harmful materials.

That is a class one misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year imprisonment and a $2,000 fine.

The bill was brought by Rapid City Republican Sen. Julie Frye-Mueller.

“We need to restrict exposure to gender dysphoria from young impressionable minds," Frye-Mueller said. "Having an adult crossdressing and performing in front of minors is basically immoral.”

Opponents voiced concerns that the bill is an effort to criminalize the LGBT+ community. Samantha Chapman with the ACLU of South Dakota said this bill is both redundant and discriminatory.

“In the past year alone more than 500 bills have been introduced in statehouses targeting this population of people," Chapman said. "Most of these bills have not gone into effect or were quickly overturned because they clearly do not withstand constitutional muster. If anything is a fad, it is this trend of spending state dollars on lawsuits to defend ultimately indefensible restrictions on constitutionally protected civil rights.”

The proposal was killed on a 5-1 vote.

A similar bill, House Bill 1197, aiming to regulate access of obscene materials on public school computers, passed from the house this week and was referred to the same committee.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture