Senate panel shows support for drag show crackdown
Amid a crackdown by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration on drag-show performances, a Senate panel on Tuesday gave initial approval to a bill that would allow the state to revoke licenses of businesses that admit children to “adult live” performances.
The Republican-dominated Judiciary Committee voted 8-3 to advance the proposal (SB 1438). Under the measure, the state Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, which is part of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, would be able to revoke licenses of lodging or food-service establishments for violations.
The division also could issue fines of $5,000 for a first violation and $10,000 fines for subsequent violations. While the measure does not specifically use the term “drag,” opponents pointed to targeting drag shows.
“In broad, general terms, an adult live performance is a presentation that depicts or simulates nudity, sexual conduct, or specific sexual activities,” a Senate staff analysis of the bill said.
The measure comes as state officials have targeted venues that hosted drag shows with children in attendance. For example, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation recently sought to revoke the liquor license of an Orlando theater over a drag show event in December.
“I speak with parents nearly everyday who share their concerns about the increasing prevalence of content across all forms of media that is inappropriate for young children. As a dad of young children, I share these concerns,” said Senate Judiciary Chairman Clay Yarborough, a Jacksonville Republican who is sponsoring the bill. Opponents argued, in part, that the bill is overly broad.
“Drag has always been a part of our society as an art form that can educate, empower and entertain. This manufactured moral panic about drag shows is about policing culture,” said Rin Alajaji, public policy associate for the LGBTQ-advocacy organization Equality Florida.
Rep. Randy Fine, R-Brevard County, has filed an identical House bill (HB 1423).