Florida lawmakers propose targeting drag queen performances where children are present
KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Members of the Central Florida drag community are stepping into the spotlight to voice their opposition after state lawmakers file two bills targeting their performances.
"I think that they're tired of seeing us with our freedom and our happiness while they're at home miserable," drag queen Angelique Young said..
The identical Florida House and Senate bills, entitled "Protection of Children," go after hotels and restaurants that allow children to attend what the bills call "an adult live performance."
While drag isn't mentioned by name, the bills define the performances as depicting or simulating nudity, sexual conduct or excitement, or "the lewd exposure of prosthetic or imitation genitals or breasts."
"Adult entertainers should not be performing for children. Period. Full stop," State Rep. Randy Fine, a Republican representing part of Brevard County, said.
The bills would give the state the power to fine a restaurant or hotel hosting an adult live performance where children are present.
They could face a $5,000 fine for the first violation and a $10,000 fine for the second violation. The state would also have the power to suspend or revoke their licenses.
Parents, too, could face up to a $1,000 fine or a year behind bars for bringing their child to one of these performances.
"Whether they're gay or straight, whether they're dressed like their actual gender, or they're dressed like another one, it's just not appropriate. And in Florida, we're not going to put up with it," Fine said.
Fine, a sponsor of the House bill, says the bills don't target drag shows where only adults are present. Instead, they go after events like drag brunch or "drag queen storytime."
"There's no such thing as a family-friendly drag show. We're going to make that clear in the state of Florida," he said.
Young and her colleagues say the state lawmakers in support of these bills have it all wrong and the community shouldn't be punished for the mistakes of a few.
"Our brunch shows and our storytimes are meant to help educate children and help them have a good experience for creativity. They're not meant to expose them to nudity or things like that," Young said. "I think that this is not at all about children. This is about quieting and silencing and taking away rights that they don't frankly have the right to do."
Fine tells FOX 35 News the content of the bills could change as they progress through different committees once the legislative session begins on Tuesday.