AUSTIN (KXAN) — A couple of bills that would restrict drag-related events and even criminalize performers in Texas will come up Thursday for discussion for the first time during this legislative session. This debate follows a statehouse rally earlier this week that brought out hundreds to defend drag and call for more LGBTQ protections.

Members of the Texas Senate state affairs committee will start discussions on Senate Bill 12 and Senate Bill 1601, both filed by Republican State Sen. Bryan Hughes. The meeting begins at 9 a.m. in the Senate chamber.

Senate Bill 12

SB 12, if ultimately passed by both chambers and signed by the governor into law, would levy a penalty up to $10,000 against any business owner who hosts a “sexually oriented performance” with anyone who’s younger than 18 present. A city or county would also not be able to host these kinds of performances on public property, according to the proposal.

The bill does not specifically mention the word “drag” in its language, but LGBTQ advocates and other critics interpret the bill’s definition of a “sexually oriented performance” as applying to drag shows.

The bill defines someone participating in a “sexually oriented performance” in the following three ways:

  • A person who is nude;
  • A “male performer exhibiting as a female, or a female performer exhibiting as a male, who uses clothing, makeup, or other similar physical markers and who sings, lip syncs, dances, or otherwise performs before an audience;”
  • And someone who “appeals to the prurient interest in sex.”

Drag performers could face a criminal misdemeanor charge if they perform in front of children or on public property, according to the language in SB 12.

It would go into effect on Sept. 1 if the proposed law clears the legislature and secures the governor’s signature.

The bill’s wording mirrors a similar bill that already passed the Arkansas legislature this year. The governor there recently signed that bill, which puts new restrictions on “adult-oriented” performances. It originally targeted drag shows but was scaled back following complaints of anti-LGBTQ discrimination.

Senate Bill 1601

Meanwhile, SB 1601 would bar the state from providing money to any municipal library if it holds an event with someone dressed in drag reading books to children.

The bill’s text reads, “A municipal library may not receive state funds if the library hosts an event at which a man presenting as a woman or a woman presenting as a man reads a book or a story to a minor for entertainment and the person being dressed as the opposite gender is a primary component of the entertainment.”

Just like the other bill being considered Thursday, this proposed law would also go into effect on Sept. 1. It also stipulates that a library would lose its state funding during the fiscal year following its drag story time event.

Supporters argue it’s inappropriate for drag performers to read to or perform for kids. However, critics contend it’s simply a distraction by conservative lawmakers that demonizes a popular part of life for LGBTQ Texans and their allies.

Ahead of Thursday’s Senate committee hearing, Equality Texas, the LGBTQ advocacy organization, issued a “bad bill action alert” on its social media accounts. The group called attention to what the proposals would do and provided supporters with ways that they can formally voice their opposition during the proceedings.