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DeSantis considers Florida lawmaker's proposal to criminalize adults who take children to drag shows

Controversy over what promoters called a "family-friendly Pride experience" in Dallas prompted a conservative Texas lawmaker to ban minors from drag shows.

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis said he asked his staff to consider a Florida lawmaker's proposal to make it a felony to take a child to a drag show following recent controversy in Dallas where children participated in a performance.

A Texas bar held what promoters called a family-friendly "Drag the Kids to Pride" event on Saturday, allowing kids to dance with performers. Videos of the event showed drag performers dancing down an aisle and, at times, accepting dollar bill tips from children. Since then, a conservative Texas state representative said he will file a bill that would ban minors from such shows.

"We have laws against child endangerment," said DeSantis answering a reporter's question Wednesday during a news conference in Fort Myers Beach.

The governor's response was to a question about state Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R-Clermont, calling for an "emergency" special session of the Florida Legislature to consider his proposal to terminate the parental rights of an adult and charge them with a felony if a child is brought to a drag show. In an emailed response to questions from 10 Tampa Bay, the lawmaker's campaign for Congress said the bill would be drafted later this month.

"I have full confidence that governor DeSantis will support his bill," the email said. "Any adult who forces children into these drag sex shows should be charged with a felony.

"What happened in Texas was criminal."

Sabatini's campaign did not respond as to whether the lawmaker had ever attended a drag show in Florida.

DeSantis, calling the Dallas event "really, really disturbing," also praised Florida lawmakers' efforts to pass the "Parental Rights in Education" bill, which he signed into law. Critics call it the "Don't Say Gay" law because it bars educators from teaching about sexual orientation or gender identity to students in kindergarten through third grade. School districts may opt to ban topics of sexual orientation or gender identity beyond third grade if leaders deem them not to be age or developmentally appropriate. 

An event page for the Dallas drag show required attendees to pay for tickets, which appeared to give adults and children the choice as to whether to attend.

"I do think that targeting these kids with all this stuff, it used to be kids would be off-limits...now it just seems like there's a concerted effort to be exposing kids more and more to things that are not age-appropriate," said DeSantis during the news conference. 

"I think our state, in Florida, we need to be a family-friendly state. We need to be a good state for people to be able to raise a family, get a high-quality education, have a lot of opportunities without having some political agenda shoved down their throats."

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