TN Ban Isn’t Protecting Kids

by Sydney Wiser ‘23

On March 2, Tennessee became the first state to ban drag performances in public spaces and in the presence of minors. Those who break this new law could face a $2,500 fine or up to a year in jail. Governor Bill Lee justified the bill’s passage by claiming it protected children from witnessing “obscene, sexualized entertainment.” That same day, Lee also passed a bill barring transgender youth from receiving gender-affirming care like hormone treatments. If Lee was actually invested in protecting the children of his state he would be investigating why, according to the Trevor Project, 48 percent of LGBTQ+ youth in his state have reported considering suicide in the past year.

Restricting the activities that make queer youth feel validated and safe in a society where they are so often expected to repress parts of themselves is dangerous. Preventing transgender youth from having access to gender-affirming treatment forces them to live longer in a body that feels like it is in constant conflict with their true identity. Anti LGBTQ+ legislation hurts LGBTQ+ youth. Lee doesn’t get to pick and choose which children he wants to protect and he should not use children as a way to further his own political agenda.