NewsLocal NewsLee County

Actions

"Big costumes, big hair, big entertainment," LGBTQ community, state reps react to Sabatini proposal

Anthony Sabatini proposes a bill to ban kids at drag shows
Posted at 10:43 PM, Jun 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-10 07:06:26-04

FORT MYERS, Fla.  — On Wednesday, representative Anthony Sabatini, Republican of Clermont, called 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.

"They should not be allowed to bring children to these events because it’s just not right," Sabatini added that the shows should only be for adults.

The proposal drew attention here in Southwest Florida in the LGBTQ community after governor Ron Desantis was in town and didn’t seem to back away from the idea when a reporter asked him.

"I've asked my folks to look I mean we have child protective statutes on the books we have laws against child endangerment."

That statement gave life to an idea made by Sabatini, who is known for his hyper-conservative ideology, now saying he wants to make it illegal if a parent takes their kid to a drag show and even further, strips their parental rights.

Sabatini tweeted this week that he intends to file a bill to make it happen after he saw a pride event for kids held in West Palm Beach last weekend.

But it’s already getting push back from state Democrats, like Carlos Guillermo Smith from Orlando.

"They were brought there by their parents, who are trying to instill in them a respect for loving people for being who they are, and appreciating diversity," adding if that’s how parents want to raise their kids it’s their right to do so.

Alyssa Lemay, a show host at the standard in Downtown Fort Myers says she can’t speak for all drag performers but she makes sure her shows are appropriate for the audience in attendance.

"I know the shows that I hold and if we ever have like a brunch here and we have kid, obviously my entertainers know, we don’t say bad language and all songs are kept PG," Lemay said.

Lemay, who has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities sees her drag shows as an expression of art and adds there are differences between shows that are kid-friendly and others made for adults.

"The bingos I do they are adults event it’s marked clearly 18 or older bad language," she says for her and many of her fellow performers, it’s all about entertainment and in her opinion, for kids, clean fun.

"It’s big costumes and big hair and big entertainment and kids locally want to see it live, we know, we read the room and if there is kids there we are nice for their ears."

It’s important to note, that no official legislation from Sabatini has been filed.

On Friday morning, organizations from Sabatini's district released a statement. Signed by Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, Compass LGBTQ+ Community Center, the Pride Business Alliance, Transpire Help, and Pride on the Block, it reads:

"In light of recent events and threats against LGBTQ+ community we want to make the following statement clear:

We live in a free society. Our strengths as a people come from the collective backgrounds, beliefs and lives of our diverse communities. We understand that there is increased rhetoric focused on limiting the freedoms of our citizenry, including an attack on the rights of our parents to raise their children in a manner that is best for their families. We will continue to host our events and will provide a safe space for all open-minded, accepting individuals to enjoy the diversity of these freedom loving communities everywhere."