FRANKFORT – (KT) Legislation to ban adult entertainment such as drag shows from places where children can see them, such as schools and libraries, easily won passage before a Senate committee on Thursday.

Senate Bill 115, sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Tichenor, R-Smithfield, was heard by the Senate Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee.

Tichenor told the panel, “Adult performance means a sexually explicit performance, as defined in KRS 529.010.  It includes a live performance involving male or female impersonators, to provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest.”    

She also noted there are instances where such live performances have occurred in schools and libraries, “Where children have been exposed to that.  Now, we have performances that meet this definition.  Not all, but some do meet that definition, and children are being invited to participate in that.”

David Walls, executive director of the Family Foundation, stated, “Over the past several years, it’s been discussed a great deal in Kentucky and across the nation.  We have seen a growing problem of adult sexual performances specifically targeting children.  That includes reading hypersexual and age inappropriate books.”

He cited a group known as Drag Queen Storytime Kentucky, which he said regularly hosts these events for children, and openly advertises their availability to perform in libraries, schools and community centers.

Former State Rep. Bob Heleringer, R-Louisville, who spent over 20 years in the House, was one of those speaking against the measure.  “I took an oath as an attorney, and that oath means that I speak out against injustice.  We speak for the rights of people, and this bill, although it has been drastically amended, is still discriminatory.  And an ounce of discrimination is the same as an ocean of discrimination.”

CPC Executive Director Richard Nelson told the Senate Veterans Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee that public drag performances that mimic stripping where children are present is becoming increasingly common.

"There is a real need to restrict sexually oriented activities and to protect children from an activity that appeals to prurient interests," Nelson said. "The intention of the bill is to preserve the health, safety, and welfare of the community and to ameliorate the negative secondary effects associated with such sexual performances." 

The bill won easy approval from the committee, and now heads to the Senate floor.