‘Drag shows are no place for a child’: Is TX Rep. Slaton right to introduce bill?

Bryan Slaton Twitter

Fact Box

  • On June 6, 2022, Rep. Bryan Slaton tweeted, “Drag shows are no place for a child [...] I will be filing legislation to address this issue in the new #txlege” in response to news stories where Texas minors were “subjected to inappropriate sexual content by adults.” 
  • Republican lawmakers and figures have critiqued a recent alleged child-friendly drag event “Drag the Kids to Pride Drag Show” at the Mr. Misster bar in Dallas, Texas for “sexual abuse of children.”
  • A February 2022 Gallup reported LGBTQ identification in the US has ticked up to 7.1% from 5.6% in 2021, with nearly 21% of Gen Z identifying as LGBTQ. Bisexuality was the most common (57%) sexual identity claimed, while 10% identified as transgender. 
  • Pew Research Center reported in a February 2022 poll that 38% of American adults say that “greater acceptance of people who are transgender is generally good for our society, while 32% say it is bad and 29% say it is neither good nor bad.”

Andrew (No)

Like nearly all forms of entertainment, drag shows run the gamut from mild and tame to raunchy and obscene. Texas State Representative Slaton's proposal of banning all drag performances for minors is too broad and unnecessary. This proposed bill could theoretically bar children from watching innocuous family films like Mrs. Doubtfire, as it features a man dressing as a woman. What about plays where men dress up as women in certain scenes? Surely these forms of entertainment are ok, which leads one to the obvious conclusion that this Republican-led effort is yet another needless barrage from Republicans' unending culture war

Representative Slaton says lawmakers have a duty to protect children, yet his party has repeatedly blocked action to curb school gun violence. There is a real crisis happening with children dying in classrooms in Slaton's own state. Focusing on drag shows is a petty way to shore up conservative voters; this legislation seems more designed to attack the LGBTQ+ community than to address real issues. 

While the Republican party seemingly strives to be the morality police, bills such as this one are ultimately a bad look for the party. These conservative legislators cannot be both the party of small government and personal choice while proposing such a steady stream of overreaching bills that take away individual liberty and choices from families. Venues, performers, and parents must monitor those attending performances as they may be inappropriate for some audiences; This is not the government's job. Representative Slaton and other Republicans should let families decide what types of entertainment are appropriate for their children rather than attempt to legislate all aspects of private life.

Elisa (Yes)

Texas Republican Senator Slaton recently stated that drag shows are no place for kids due to their promotion of child sexualization. No matter how it's framed, there is no such thing as a 'family-friendly' drag show for children. In the 'Drag your kids to Pride' event, kids were shown giving money to drag queens in extremely sexualized clothing. While some argue drag shows help kids discover their true selves, the reality is they push hyper-sexualization and hyper-feminization of children.  

The environment of these types of events is for mature audiences only, and that is why there are rules, laws, and common social etiquette regarding bringing children into bars and clubs. Drag shows often take place late at night in bars, and no matter where you fall on the political spectrum, it is easy to see why these environments could be dangerous for children. Some drag events even take place without parents' permission

Still, all one needs to do is look at the actual videos of the events, and it's shockingly inappropriate, featuring grown men dancing around in raunchy and sexualized clothing, an extremely loud atmosphere (which can be harmful for young children), overt sensuality, and exposure to alcohol when these events are hosted in functional bars, as the Dallas event was

In the end, establishing laws against allowing kids to attend drag events isn't about bigotry; rather, it is about child exploitation, which should never be controversial. Society is moving away from protecting the innocence of children, which is why bills need to be put into place—if parents or adults cannot see what is right or wrong, then the law may have to step in and show them.

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