Texas state Rep. Bryan Slaton (R) announced on Monday that he intends to file a bill during the state legislature’s upcoming session that would ban drag shows in the presence of minors.
“Drag shows are no place for a child,” the Republican lawmaker wrote on Twitter. “I would never take my children to a drag show and I know Speaker Dade Phelan and my Republican colleagues wouldn’t either.”
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In a statement, Slaton says that the proposed bill is a response to “news stories and videos over the weekend in which underage Texas children were subjected to inappropriate sexual content by adults.”
Slaton goes on to characterize kids attending drag shows as tantamount to sexual abuse. “The events of this past weekend were horrifying and show a disturbing trend in which perverted adults are obsessed with sexualizing young children,” the statement reads.
Slaton hasn’t yet specified exactly what he means by “drag shows” or how they’d be defined in a bill.
The lawmaker called in Tuesday morning to Texas radio station 660 AM The Answer’s The Mark Davis Show to discuss the proposed bill. The host had touted the conversation on Twitter early Tuesday, claiming Slaton would “describe how such legislation would work.” Slaton and Davis railed against the supposed sexualization of kids as well as against gender-affirming healthcare for minors.
The host did bring up popular drag story time events in libraries and schools, but Slaton failed to get into the specifics of precisely what kind of performances and events he hopes to outlaw.
Slaton expressed confidence that his bill would have the full support of his fellow Republican legislators and even speculated that some Texas Democrats might sign on. “We don’t let children go to a restaurant or bars and then bring in strippers,” he said.
Though Slaton’s release didn’t specify the “events” to which he was referring, it’s widely assumed he means a family friendly drag show that took place at Dallas nightclub Mr. Misster on Saturday. Videos from the afternoon event, billed as “Drag Your Kids to Pride,” showed children dancing and playing games with fully-clothed performers. Meanwhile, outside, protesters reportedly clashed with attendees and even asked police to perform a “welfare check” on the kids inside the venue.
Slaton’s language around the supposed issue echoes the recent disturbing rhetoric on the right casting Democrats and the LGBTQ community as “groomers,” bent on enabling the abuse of children.
Unsurprisingly, reaction to Slaton’s announcement has drawn both support and criticism across party lines. Many detractors have pointed to the chilling irony in the wake of the recent tragic mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas that Republicans like Slaton seem more focused on banning drag performances than the assault weapons used again and again in such massacres.