Freedom of Expression

ACLU Sues a Tennessee City Over An Anti-Drag Ordinance

Slay Hate: Fight Back Tennessee rally
Vanity, a Drag Queen, performs during a drag show after the Slay Hate: Fight Back Tennessee rally, following the recent passage by Tennessee lawmakers of legislation restricting drag performances in public or in front of children, in Nashville, Tennessee, March 9, 2023. (Reuters/Seth Herald)

By The Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee on Friday filed a federal lawsuit against a Tennessee city that passed an ordinance designed to ban drag performances from taking place on public property.

The legal challenge is the latest development in the ongoing political battle over LGBTQ+ rights inside Tennessee, where the state’s conservative leaders have sought to limit events where drag performers may appear, restrict classroom conversations about gender and sexuality, and ban gender-affirming care.

Friday’s latest lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Tennessee Equality Project, a nonprofit that advocates for LGBTQ+ rights and has previously hosted a Pride event in Murfreesboro — located about 34 miles (55 kilometers) south of Nashville — since 2016.