Texas legislature: House advances bill after removing drag reference, would ban 'lewd' acts in front of minors

Texas Senate Bill 12 has passed to the third reading and continues on its path toward the Governor’s Desk.

Senate Bill (SB) 12 bans certain sexually oriented performances from being done in front of minor children under 18-years-old on public property and on the premises of a commercial business.

The bill also prohibits a person who controls the premises of the business from allowing these performances to be done in front of minor children. If they violate this, the owner is liable to a $10,000 penalty.

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The Attorney General may also become involved and take action such as recovering expenses incurred by the civil penalty like court fees, attorney fees, and more.

SB 12 would allow counties and municipalities to regulate their performances as necessary but they can not authorize a performance on public property or in front of minors under 18. 

In the context of the bill, sexual conduct is referred to as "lewd" acts.

The bill states acts prohibited include the exhibition or representation, actual or simulated, of sexual acts, including vaginal sex, anal sex, and masturbation; male or female genitals in a lewd state, including a state of sexual stimulation or arousal; the exhibition of a device designed and marketed as useful primarily for the sexual stimulation of male or female genitals; or actual contact or simulated contact occurring between one person and the buttocks, breast, or any part of the genitals of another person.

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"Sexually oriented performance", the bill states, means a visual performance that a performer who is nude or any other performer who engages in sexual conduct; and appeals to the interest of sex.

The offense for performing a sexual performance in front of a minor will be a Class A misdemeanor and anyone who commits the offense could face up to one year in jail and/or a maximum fine of $4,000.


According to the bill, an offense is committed if the person does a sexually oriented performance on public property at a time, in a place, and in a manner that could be reasonably expected to be seen by a child or on the property of a commercial business in the presence of a minor under 18.

Senate Bill 12 was originally authored as a way to restrict or ban drag shows in the state of Texas. However, it was found to be unconstitutional to do so, but the other bill wording remained.

If the bill passes, it would go into effect in September 2023.

Visit the Texas Legislature website to read more about Texas Senate Bill 12.