A Texas lawmaker announced on Monday that he will introduce legislation to ban minors from attending drag shows in the state.
State Rep. Bryan Slaton, a Republican, said a law was necessary to protect children from “perverted adults,” citing a viral video of children attending a drag show in Dallas on Saturday.
“The events of this past weekend were horrifying and show a disturbing trend in which perverted adults are obsessed with sexualizing young children,” Slaton said in a statement. “As a father of two young children, I would never take my children to a drag show and I know speaker Dade Phelan and the rest of my Republican colleagues wouldn’t either.”
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He added, “Protecting our own children isn’t enough and our responsibility as lawmakers extends to the sexualization that is happening across Texas.”
Slaton was referring to a drag show that took place at the Mr. Misster bar. The event, the “Drag the Kids to Pride Drag Show,” was advertised as a “family friendly spin off” of the bar’s “Champagne Drag Brunch” show.
A viral video from the event shows children watching drag performers dance and tipping them with cash. It attracted a crowd of protesters.
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Several other Republican lawmakers — including Reps. Majorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado — and conservative pundits also weighed in on the matter, arguing that it should be “illegal” for minors to attend drag shows.
Podcast host Allie Beth Stuckey, who has over 357,000 followers on Twitter, went as far as suggesting the parents, performers and bar owners “should be charged with sexual abuse of children.”
LGBTQ activists and some Democratic lawmakers slammed the prospective ban.
“First it was CRT. Then it was trans kids playing sports. Now it’s….drag?” Michigan State Senator Mallory McMorrow said on Twitter, using the acronym for Critical Race Theory. “None of these things fix inflation, bring healthcare costs down, or save kids from gun violence. It’s just the fear tactic of the month for the GOP. And it’s embarrassing.”
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Slaton’s announcement comes amid a recent surge in charged rhetoric surrounding how and whether children should learn about LGBTQ issues.
In recent months, conservative lawmakers, television pundits and other public figures have accused opponents of a newly enacted Florida education legislation — which critics have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law — of trying to “groom” or “indoctrinate” children. The word “grooming” has long been associated with mischaracterizing LGBTQ people, particularly gay men and transgender women, as child sex abusers.
Simultaneously, LGBTQ activists have been fighting against the record number of anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in state legislatures this year — more than 320, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
Texas lawmakers have also consistently made headlines for their slate of anti-LGBTQ, and particularly anti-transgender, policies in recent months.
In February, Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott ordered the state’s child welfare agency to investigate child abuse claims filed against parents who might be providing their trans children with gender-affirming medical care. A statewide injunction that was placed on the directive in March was struck down by the Texas Supreme Court last month. However, the court also said such investigations are not under the governor’s control, in a nod to families with trans children.