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Friday, September 8 • 9:15am - 11:15am
Curating the Conversation on Anti-Drag Laws

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First, legislators in Tennessee passed a law that would ban drag performance. Shortly after, the state of Texas followed by putting in place a law that would allow residents to sue anyone who allows a drag performance in the presence of a minor. Then an avalanche of nearly two dozen states instituted their own similar bans which essentially make the artistry and existence of drag performers illegal. The anti-drag bills are part of a well-coordinated national – and global – anti-gender movement grounded in heteropatriarchy and transphobia that threatens the core democratic pillars of bodily autonomy and free speech.

In the wake of this rise in anti-drag legislation, just how should the issue be covered by journalists in newsrooms? How can reporters connect the dots between how this particular community is being oppressed and what that means for other communities that are being threatened? At a time when the issue is still sensitive, and performers are being threatened, should the issue be covered in a high profile way, or in a more subtle, subdued approach? How would that look and sound? How do we compel a bigger part of the public to care? What are the economic implications - both for the performers, other artists and local businesses?

A complimentary breakfast buffet, courtesy of the Ford Foundation, will be available for all plenary session attendees starting at 9:15am with the plenary starting at 9:45am promptly.

Sponsored by Ford Foundation

avatar for Orion Rummler

Orion Rummler

LGBTQ+ Reporter, The 19th News
Orion covers LGBTQ+ news, focused on state politics, breaking news and the underreported ways that trans and queer people are marginalized. He writes stories that resonate with the unspoken experiences of LGBTQ+ people and ones that deeply report the impact of everyday policy on their... Read More →
avatar for Kate Ruane

Kate Ruane

Sy Syms Director, U.S. Free Expression Porgrams, PEN America
Kate Ruane is the Sy Syms Director, U.S. Free Expression Programs at PEN America. An attorney with a strong background in legal research, Kate is committed to the freedom of speech and to bringing focus to the ways in which a strong commitment to free expression benefits communities... Read More →
avatar for Steven Monacelli

Steven Monacelli

Special Investigative Correspondent, Texas Observer
Steven Monacelli is the Texas Observer's Special Investigative Correspondent, based in Dallas. His reporting has been featured in Rolling Stone, The Daily Beast, The Real News, Dallas Observer, Dallas Weekly, and more. He is also the publisher of Protean Magazine, a nonprofit literary... Read More →
avatar for Beatrice Thomas

Beatrice Thomas

Director, Authentic Arts & Media
Beatrice Thomas is the multi-disciplinary artist, cultural strategist, social justice drag queen and creative producer behind Authentic Arts and Media. Whether through creative production, consulting or equity, diversity, and inclusion workshops, Mx. Thomas' focus is on uplifting... Read More →


Friday September 8, 2023 9:15am - 11:15am EDT
Regency B (Floor 2M)