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Florida’s Ron DeSantis says parents who take kids to drag shows could be investigated

Maggie Baska June 10, 2022
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Florida governor Ron DeSantis wears a white button up shirt, light blue tie and dark blue jacket as he speaks to someone off camera

Florida governor Ron DeSantis says he's asked his staff to look at a proposed measure that would criminalise parents for taking their kids to drag shows. (Getty/Joe Raedle)

Florida’s anti-LGBTQ+ governor Ron DeSantis is considering whether he would order state officials to investigate parents who bring kids to drag shows. 

In a bizarre move, Republicans have started to rally forces around bringing forward legislation criminalising drag shows. A Texas lawmaker announced he would propose a ban on minors attending drag shows after a video went viral of kids attending a family-friendly Pride event in Dallas. 

Florida legislators are now hot on the heels of their Texan counterparts. State representative Anthony Sabatini announced on Twitter that he plans to propose legislation that would make it a “felony” for parents to take their kids to drag events. 

During a news conference, DeSantis said he asked staff to look into Canatini’s proposal. He characterised the Dallas drag event as “really, really disturbing” and claimed it was “inappropriate” for children to be at the family-friendly shows. 

“We’re going to look to see what can be done under existing statutes, but I do think targeting these kids with all this stuff,” he said, “It used to be kids would be off-limits, used be everybody agreed with that.”

DeSantis continued: “And now, it just seems like there’s a concerted effort to be exposing kids more and more to things that are not age-appropriate. 

“I think our state, Florida, we need to be a family-friendly state. 

“We need to be a good state for people to be able to raise a family, get a high-quality education, have a lot of opportunities without having some political agenda shoved down their throat. 

Florida governor Ron DeSantis wears a white button up shirt, red tie and dark suit jacket as he stands at a podium and speaks into a microphone. He is gesturing with both his hands up in the air
Florida governor Ron DeSantis claims it’s “inappropriate” for kids to attend family-friendly drag shows with their parents. (Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty)

Sabatini rallied against what he called “Drag Sex Shows” aimed at children in the state, sharing a screenshot of a West Palm Beach event on Twitter. 

He said his legislation would criminalise such events by lobbing felony charges and terminating the “parental rights of any adult who brings a child to these perverted sex shows aimed at FL kids”. 

The Republican told WTSP in an email that he has “full confidence” that Ron DeSantis would support his bill, which is being drafted later this month. 

The current conservative rally cry against children being allowed to watch drag performances began on Saturday (4 June) after videos showing kids attending a Dallas drag show went viral online. 

Dallas bar Mr Misster held an inclusive event called “Drag the Kids to Pride Drag Show” and billed the show as a “family-friendly” spin-off of the bar’s “Champagne Drag Brunch” show. 

right-wing mob quickly descended on the event and began shouting vile hate at patrons as well as counter-protesters. Others in the crowd chanted “groomer” at those gathered in support of the bar. 

Contrary to claims of the far-right pundits and lawmakers, drag events aren’t ‘sex shows’. Drag is a hugely popular form of art, theatre and entertainment across the globe – especially given the rise of the ever-popular RuPaul’s Drag Race franchise. 

RuPaul laughs while wearing a pink off the shoulder dress, blonde wig and silver sparkly earrings while on the set of Drag Race All Stars 7
The popularity of drag has exploded worldwide with the rise of the RuPaul’s Drag Race franchise. (WOW Presents Plus)

More businesses – including librariestop fashion brands and book publishers – have opened their doors to drag performers. 

It wouldn’t be surprising if Ron DeSantis did approve legislation criminalising parents from bringing their kids to family-friendly drag shows as it’s not the first time he’s supported anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. 

Last summer, the Florida governor signed into law a cruel bill banning trans youth from playing on school sports teams that align with their gender identity. He also vetoed vital funding for programmes that provided mental health support for survivors of the horrific Pulse massacre.

In March, he signed Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill into law, which has inspired other states to introduce similar cruel measures

The measure bans discussions on LGBTQ+ issues in classrooms through kindergarten and third grade. After third grade, these topics must be “age appropriate” for students. 

Florida governor Ron DeSantis wears a white button up shirt, light blue tie and dark blue jacket as he stares at someone off camera
Florida governor Ron DeSantis has a history of supporting anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. (Getty/Joe Raedle)

In April, Ron DeSantis signed the “Stop WOKE Act” which heavily restricts how workplaces, schools and colleges can teach about racism, homophobia and other systemic biases.

The legislation bans anyone from discussing how people can be “inherently racist, sexist or oppressive” or that people can be responsible or should feel guilty for historic injustices against others on the same grounds.

Earlier this month, DeSantis’ administration ordered the state’s board of medicine to prevent trans youth from accessing life-saving healthcare

His surgeon general, Joseph Ladapo, urged the board in a letter on 3 June to ban trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming young people from receiving gender-affirming medical care and treatments. 

It follows chilling ‘guidance’ issued by the Florida Department of Health on 20 April that suggested under-18s shouldn’t be allowed to “socially transition”. 

 

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