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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

MT trans history lecture proceeds after being postponed due to a drag ban law

A lecture on the history of trans and Two-Spirit people in Montana went ahead at a private community venue in Butte earlier this week. The lecture was entangled in a new law banning drag story hours in public buildings.

“Yeah so, I guess before I came here there was a bit of a controversy,” said lecturer Adria Jawort.

Adria Jawort delivered her rescheduled lecture to a standing-room only crowd at a private gathering hall. It was initially booked at the Butte Public Library weeks earlier.

It was the first high profile instance of a trans speaker being blocked from a public space under a new state law banning drag performances at public schools and libraries, as the local government weighed threats of litigation.

Jawort is transgender, but there was no drag component to the lecture.

Butte-Silver Bow Chief Executive J.P. Gallagher explained his decision to block the event from occuring at the public library in a letter to Jawort that he read at a June 7 county commission meeting.

“Analyzing the language of the provisions of House Bill 359, Butte-Silver Bow made the decision, out of an abundance of caution, to cancel your appearance at this time,” Gallagher said .

The new law broadly enables children or parents who attend an event they believe violates the ban to bring civil action. The policy was passed along party lines and signed into law by Gov. Greg Gianforte late last month. Supporters said it aims to protect children. Opponents said it inaccurately defines drag performers and conflates them with sexual predators.

Jawort is considering bringing legal action against Butte-Silver Bow, while a separate private law firm has already pledged to bring a court challenge against the drag show ban.

John joined the Montana Public Radio team in August 2022. Born and raised in Helena, he graduated from the University of Montana’s School of Media Arts and created the Montana history podcast Land Grab. John can be contacted at
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