Florida Senate passes bill targeting drag shows

The vote comes ahead of Tallahassee’s annual pride celebration this weekend
Bill targeting drag shows approved by Florida Senate
Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 9:31 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A Florida bill targeting drag shows is on its way to becoming law.

The Senate passed the bill Tuesday in a 28-12 vote.

The bill prohibits children from being admitted to “adult live performances.” Opponents worry the bill could put pride parades at risk. An amendment filed last week bans cities from issuing permits for events that expose children to “adult entertainment,” which is defined as a performance that includes nudity, sexual conduct or lewd exposure.

The bill’s sponsor, Senator Clay Yarborough, argues the bill is about protecting children.

“I believe that when children are exposed to certain things, just like adults, we can’t unsee, we can’t unhear and we can’t un-experience the stuff that goes into our minds,” Yarborough said.

Several Democrats spoke out against the measure, saying it unfairly targets the LGBTQ community. They argue the language is too vague and is designed to have a chilling effect on drag performances.

“And what is the danger here?” Senator Tina Polsky asked. “We haven’t heard a single example of any improper conduct. And the parents are literally right there next to the children. You just deem it improper because this is yet another attempt to persecute the transgender community.”

The bill still needs to pass the House before heading to DeSantis’s desk. If it’s signed, it would go into effect in July.

Tallahassee’s annual pride celebration is happening this weekend. In a written statement, the group Tally Pride said:

“Tallahassee Pride’s mission of uplifting the LGBTQ community through visible celebrations like Pride in the Plaza includes and will continue to include our drag performer family. Drag is an art form that helps spread a message of joy and inclusion and creates spaces that welcome all people of all ages.

This legislation is seemingly designed to discourage LGBTQ-friendly businesses, and now cities and counties, from opening their doors to drag performers. The language is written broadly and threatens entities with excessive fines and misdemeanor charges with the intention of sparking fear and intimidation that will lead to self-censorship. Tallahassee Pride rejects these politically-motivated efforts to marginalize our community and looks forward to hosting a beautiful, welcoming celebration on April 15th.”