South Dakota lawmakers want end to “kid friendly” drag shows

South Dakota state lawmakers have brought a couple of bills to the 2023 state legislative session intended to end "kid-friendly" drag shows.
Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 9:40 AM CST
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PIERRE, S.D. - South Dakota Republican state lawmakers want to end “kid-friendly” drag shows in the state.

That’s according to a couple of bills filed by Rep. Scott Odenbach (R-Spearfish) and Rep. Chris Karr (R-Sioux Falls). Odenbach’s bill would define “drag shows” in South Dakota’s obscenity and public indecency statutes, and thus make it illegal for minors to attend them, whether that be at a public or private venue.

”What people do in their, their private lives at a private venue is one thing,” Odenbach said. “But what they do on public property, and when they invite little children to something like this that we thought was probably clearly within the obscenity statues... Many of us in the legislature had a problem with that.”

Karr’s bill would aim more specifically at events in public facilities, specifically Board of Regents facilities. It is a direct response to the “kid-friendly drag show” that took place at South Dakota State University last year.

”One of my other big concerns is are we using state resources, or university resources to host an event that is now encouraging minors to attend,” Karr said. “I don’t think that falls in line with the values of South Dakota.”

The ACLU of South Dakota argues that efforts to restrict drag shows ultimately restrict free speech as well.

”Defining drag shows as obscene and publicly indecent is yet again another attack on the LGBTQ community, who was just as recently as last month, receiving bomb threats as a way to try and prohibit their shows (at SDSU),” said Samantha Chapman, Advocacy Manage for the ACLU SD.

”Do you have kids? Do you care about the future of South Dakota?” Karr asked. “We live in a state that holds certain values, morals, and ideas very high. Protecting those values and morals is very important to me and other South Dakotans.”

Both bills have yet to receive a committee assignment yet, which means they likely won’t be heard for the first time for at least a week.