Lawmakers coming out against bill seen as banning Ohio kids performing in drag

Have you heard of House Bill 180?

Ohio legislation proposed after Perrysburg boy’s drag show, Toledo Blade

Boy’s drag routine prompts Republican to seek new rules on child exploitation, The Guardian

Child drag shows would be outlawed under new Ohio bill, Cleveland.com

Sashay Away? Ohio Legislature Moves to Ban Child Drag Shows, Logo

At first, the bill seemed to have quite a bit of support, boasting numerous cosponsors. Equality Ohio has been at the statehouse talking with legislators about the problematic origins of this bill. Just last week, we met with Rep. Kent Smith and the bill’s author, Rep. Tim Schaffer, to share our concerns.

We brought concerns that the bill targets an Ohio child who occasionally performs drag under age-appropriate and safe, parental-approved boundaries; that drag is not human trafficking as the bill suggests; and that gender-expansive behavior is normal and that parental support delivers healthful outcomes for young people.

Equality Ohio is happy to share that the amount of support for the bill has since dropped.

Rep. Kent Smith was the first initial supporter to recognize that something wasn’t quite right with HB180, and he has publicly announced that he will not support HB180 in its current form.

So, my pledge to you is that I will not support HB 180 in its current form and given the opportunity, within House Rules, I will remove my name as a co-sponsor of this legislation.

But I assure you, I was not supporting anti-LGBTQ legislation. In my 19 years as a political candidate and office-holder, I have always firmly stood for extending all human rights and equality for LGBTQ Ohioans. In fact, Equality Ohio gave me an “A” rating in their last candidate scorecard.


It’s important to note that it is not easy to remove one’s name from the list of sponsors or co-sponsors on a bill, and doing so may or may not be possible with HB180 depending on how it moves. But we appreciate the intent to do so when and if it’s possible.

Rep. Smith has been joined by Sen. Fedor. According to the Toledo Blade, Sen. Fedor initially supported the bill.

Teresa Fedor (D., Toledo) initially said April 19 that she supported House Bill 180, sponsored by Rep. Tim Schaffer (R., Lancaster).

She reversed course Friday, saying in a statement on Facebook that she had been responding to language in the bill that says no parent “shall create a substantial risk to the health or safety of the child, by violating a duty of care, protection, or support.”

“It is clear to me now that the intent of this bill language is disingenuous,” she said. “I won’t stand for attacks on LGBTQ children who are uniquely vulnerable to being preyed upon by human traffickers.”

Toledo Blade

Equality Ohio has been working closely with the family that this bill is targeting––a family rich with love, support, and affirmation for their child.

As the Toledo Blade reported, “the family carefully monitors his routines and venues to ensure his safety and the appropriateness of his performances. She vets the songs her son performs to, and vetoes or censors those with sexual language. His routine is made up mostly of moves he learns in dance or gymnastics class, she said, including handstands, cartwheels, and splits. She and her husband monitor their son before and during performances.”

Equality Ohio will continue to engage Ohio legislators on this bill and to make clear to everybody that drag is not child trafficking.

If you’re in Northwest Ohio, there is a letter writing event you can attend to make your voice heard. Stay tuned for more updates.