Judge blocks Tennessee law barring drag shows for children

by Chris Lange

Chris Lange, FISM News


A Tennessee judge temporarily blocked the state’s law banning drag shows for children a day before it was set to take effect.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Parker on Friday granted a temporary restraining order to pause enforcement of the law for two weeks, saying that the language of the measure is “likely both vague and overly broad.”

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed a measure into law last month that would ban public drag shows in the state where they could be seen by children. 

Judge Parker sided with Memphis-based Friends of George’s, an LGBTQ theater group that filed the injunction request last week. The group claimed in a March 29, 2023 press release that the “reckless anti-drag law … imperils the lives of drag performers and seeks to oppress queer culture state-wide.”

Specifically, Parker agreed with Friends of George’s (FOG) argument that the language of the bill “could mean just about anywhere.”

“Does a citizen’s private residence count? How about a camping ground at a national park? What if a minor browsing the world wide web from a public library views an ‘adult cabaret performance’?” Parker wrote in his decision. “Ultimately, the Statute’s broad language clashes with the First Amendment’s tight constraints.”

Parker went on to acknowledge that the temporary restraining order represents an “extraordinary remedy” and that he “does not take such actions lightly.”

“If Tennessee wishes to exercise its police power in restricting speech it considers obscene, it must do so within the constraints and framework of the United States Constitution,” the judge continued. “The Court finds that, as it stands, the record here suggests that when the legislature passed this Statute, it missed the mark.”

FOG praised the ruling in a press release.

“We won because this is a bad law,” Mark Campbell, president of the group’s board of directors, was quoted as saying in the release. “We look forward to our day in court where the rights for all Tennesseeans will be affirmed.”

Campbell’s fellow board member, Goldie Dee Collins, described in the release as a “proud drag queen,” declared that FOG is “committed to landing a victory against hate.”

“We stand in firm solidarity with all drag performers, the greater LGBTQIA+ community, and countless allies in the fight for Justice, self-expression, and pursuit of happiness,” Collins added.


Tennessee became the first U.S. state to ban drag performances in the presence of children amid a nationwide push by the left to indoctrinate American kids into radical transgender ideology. Similar legislation, either banning or restricting drag performances, has been either introduced or passed in about a dozen other GOP-led states, according to a CNN report.

State Rep. Chris Todd (R-Madison County) introduced the Tennessee legislation in February, calling it “a common sense child-safety bill.” The measure makes it illegal to host an “adult cabaret performance” in a location where children are present, including on public property, as well as any other form of “adult-oriented performances that are harmful to minors.” 

Under the law, any individual or group that hosts or performs drag shows in the presence of children would face misdemeanor charges and fines of up to $2,000.

This article was informed by The Hill, Breitbart, and NPR reports.