DeSantis Looking to Protect Kids From ‘Inappropriate’ Drag Shows

DeSantis Looking to Protect Kids From ‘Inappropriate’ Drag Shows
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis addresses the media in Miami, in April 2022. (Courtesy, The Florida Governor's Office)

PUNTA GORDA, Fla.–Gov. Ron DeSantis is considering using child safety laws to protect children from drag shows.

“It used to be kids would be off-limits ... everybody agreed with that,” DeSantis said at a June 8 press conference at Fort Myers Beach. “Now it just seems like there’s a concerted effort to be exposing kids more and more to things that are not age-appropriate.”

This comes after a post on social media went viral where children in a Dallas gay bar were seen actively participating in a show called “Drag the Kids to Pride." The show was not a private event and tickets were available for purchase.

The show at Mr. Misster’s, a bar and club venue, was marketed to families as part of “Pride Month.” The video showed scantily clad drag queens dancing provocatively under a large sign that read “It’s not gonna lick itself.”  Young children were seen clapping while seated at the bar, with some placing paper currency in the dancers' clothing.

This got the attention of one Florida lawmaker, who told reporters he wants to call an emergency legislative session to ban children from drag shows or adult entertainment, saying children should not be “exposed to sexual content.”

Republican State Rep. Anthony Sabatini said he believes an emergency session is warranted because an event like the one in Dallas is planned for West Palm Beach.

“If people want to do these drag shows on their own time, that’s fine,” he told reporters. “But not involving kids, not aimed at kids, not tailored for kids because we need to protect kids. And it’s not normal; it’s not good to have them exposed to sexual content.”

Sabatini referred to the drag events as “perverted sex shows” that should not be “aimed at kids.”

 People from the Walt Disney Company participate in LA Pride Parade, an annual LGBTQ Pride celebration, in West Hollywood, California, on June 9, 2019. (David McNew/AFP via Getty Images)
People from the Walt Disney Company participate in LA Pride Parade, an annual LGBTQ Pride celebration, in West Hollywood, California, on June 9, 2019. (David McNew/AFP via Getty Images)

The Dallas video depicts children as young as 7 or 8 years of age dancing with drag queens and giving tip money “like somebody would do at a strip club," Sabatini said.

“Drag Sex Shows aimed at children have come to Florida,” Sabatini said in a Tweet. “I will be proposing Legislation to charge with a felony and terminate the parental rights of any adult who brings a child to these perverted sex shows aimed at Florida kids.”

Sabatini said what happened in Texas was “criminal” and he had confidence the governor would support a bill outlawing children from participating in shows like the one in Dallas.

“I have full confidence that Gov. DeSantis will support this bill,” he said. “Any adult who forces children into these drag sex shows should be charged with a felony.”

DeSantis said he was aware of Sabatini’s comments and said he is looking at the current Florida child protection statutes and that the video was “totally inappropriate.”

“We have child protection statutes on the books,” he said at the press conference. “We have laws against child endangerment. That is not something children should be exposed to. I think that was really, really disturbing ... we want our kids to be kids.”

DeSantis also noted his fight for Parental Rights in Education law whose intent is to stop the “indoctrination of gender ideology into early childhood through third-grade education."

The law prohibits school districts, as well as classroom teachers, from implementing into their lesson plans things relating to sexual orientation or gender identity.

“I think our state—in Florida—we need to be a family-friendly state,” the governor said. “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 throats.”

Rep. Bryan Slaton (R-Texas) said he was taking legislative action against any future events involving children in the state of Texas.

"Drag shows are no place for a child,” Slaton said. “I would never take my children to a drag show and I know Speaker Dade Phelan and my Republican colleagues wouldn’t either.”