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Tribune News Service
Tribune News Service
Lauren McGaughy

Author of Texas anti-drag bill says video of him wearing dress was ‘a joke back in school’

AUSTIN, Texas — A North Texas lawmaker who authored a bill to restrict drag shows wore a dress for a school project as a teenager, according to a video that surfaced on social media this week.

State Rep. Nate Schatzline, a freshman Republican representing part of central and north Fort Worth, acknowledged he was in the video that surfaced on TikTok and Twitter. He described it as a “joke back in school for a theater project.”

“Yah, that’s not a sexually explicit drag show… lol y’all will twist ANYTHING,” he responded to a Twitter user who reposted the video Wednesday afternoon.

Schatzline released a video response early Wednesday evening.

“The left wing is attacking me for some class project I did as a teenager where my buddies dared me to wear a dress,” he said in the video. “But we’re not going to let it distract us from the real message of what we’re trying to get done here in the Texas Legislature, which is to ban sexually explicit drag shows and preserve the innocence of the next generation.”

House Bill 1266 would redefine any venue showing “drag” as a sexually oriented business, making it subject to special taxes and restrictions. His legislation has not advanced, although identical bills filed by Frisco GOP Rep. Jared Patterson and Mineola Sen. Bryan Hughes have been referred to a committee for debate.

The bills come in the wake of nationwide calls among some conservatives to restrict minors from attending such shows. The Dallas Morning News reported last year that Texas has been an epicenter for protests against all-ages drag shows, in which performers have reported threats on their livelihoods and lives.

Republican lawmakers in Texas have also filed bills to ban gender-affirming care for minors, prohibit the discussion of sexuality and gender identity in schools and restrict housing in Texas prisons for transgender inmates. None of these bills have advanced yet; legislative rules require that only the state budget and bills deemed a priority by the governor can be debated this early in the session.

The video shows a group of characters in costume skipping and running through a park. The man identified as Schatzline is described as “the virgin” and is wearing a black dress and shiny red mask. At one point, he is pursued by what appears to be a woman dressed in men’s clothing and wearing a mustache, carrying a large mallet identified as “the Englishman.”

Schatzline’s bill defines drag as when “a performer exhibits a gender identity that is different than the performer’s gender assigned at birth using clothing, makeup, or other physical markers and sings, lip syncs, dances, or otherwise performs before an audience for entertainment.”

The video featuring Schatzline mirrors an instance that occurred earlier this week with Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee. A photograph showing Lee in a dress surfaced the same day he vowed to sign legislation to ban “adult cabaret entertainment” that is “harmful to minors” from public property, according to the Associated Press.

Lee said press inquiries comparing the photograph and legislation were unfair.

“What a ridiculous question that is,” the AP reported Lee as saying in response to a question at a press conference Monday. “Conflating something like that to sexualized entertainment in front of children, which is a very serious question.”

The Tennessee legislation does not explicitly mention drag, as Texas’ does, but instead adds “male or female impersonators” to the state’s definition of adult cabaret.


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