TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — Over 300 people marched to the Florida Capitol to demand that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis permit children to attend performances from cross-dressing men.
Demonstrators were objecting to the Protection of Children Act, which prohibits businesses and local governments from exposing children to “adult live performances” such as drag shows.
Live performances now deemed illegal for children are those that “depict or simulate nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or specific sexual activities” or other “lewd conduct.” Those who violate the law could be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. The proposal will become a law immediately upon receiving the governor’s signature.
IS DRAG NOW A CRIME?
The activists were bussed to Cascades Park for a rally before marching half a mile to the Florida Capitol. Equality Florida, the LGBTQ group who helped organize the event, called the Protection of Children Act part of the governor’s “anti-LGBTQ agenda.”
Equality Florida called the event “the largest gathering of its kind in Florida’s history.”
Once inside the Capitol rotunda, protesters began chanting “Drag is not a crime!”
On Twitter, many supporters of the Protection of Children Act pointed out that drag shows will remain legal for adults.
“How many decades has the world had drag shows? Drag shows have been around for a very long time,” one user wrote. “No one cared. No one bothered them. So ask yourself… Why now? Why have drag shows taken such a beating? The answer is simple… CHILDREN. LEAVE KIDS ALONE.”
Rep. Randy Fine (R-Brevard), who sponsored the legislation, asked a related question when speaking about the bill on the House floor.
“The right question is not why do I want to stop children from going to these kinds of events,” Fine said. “The question is why are [drag queens] so determined to do it to children?”
PUTTING AN END TO THE TREND
In recent years, cross-dressing men have begun bringing drag performances into public places such as libraries, parks, parades and other daytime venues like restaurants and coffee shops. The events are often advertised for “all ages.”
On April 16, a coffee shop in Fort Walton Beach hosted a Pokémon-themed drag show where cross-dressing men danced like strippers in front of children and took cash tips from them.
Florida is one of several Republican-led states across the country that have acted to stop the trend. The DeSantis administration moved to revoke the liquor licenses of multiple venues that hosted similar events in 2022.
Last week, an annual LGBTQ “Pride” festival in Port St. Lucie added a 21+ age restriction and canceled its parade in anticipation of the governor signing the Protection of Children Act into law.