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Failed gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano plans to introduce a drag ban bill

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Failed candidate for governor state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R) will introduce a bill banning drag performance at all public properties in Pennsylvania.

In a memo circulated Monday to fellow lawmakers in the Pennsylvania Senate, where the state senator is serving out the remainder of his term after losing to recently inaugurated Governor Josh Shapiro (D), Mastriano is seeking co-sponsors for a bill that would ban drag performances in any “areas that can be seen by minors.”

Mastriano’s legislation would classify drag shows as an “adult-oriented business” and regulate drag performance based on “the scope and appeal for prurient interest.” That language, referring to individuals “having or encouraging an excessive interest in sexual matters,” is nearly identical in its description to a drag ban bill making its way through the Arkansas legislature.

“Drag shows that appeal to minors on school property, libraries, and other public places should not be accepted in any functioning society,” Mastriano wrote in his memo seeking co-sponsors. “My legislation will ensure that this is no longer occurs in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

Mastriano cited “an alarming uptick in drag performances that appeal to children” in the state and called out an event held by The Rainbow Room, a Planned Parenthood-sponsored LGBTQ+ youth group serving teens in Bucks County. The group holds weekly meetings with a slate of programs including sexuality education, life skills, guest speakers and game nights.

In October, The Rainbow Room held a queer prom that featured a drag performance. On Sunday, anti-LGBTQ+ Internet scowl Chaya Raichik posted video of the performance on her LibsofTikTok account. Mastriano’s promise of a drag ban bill followed within hours.

Mastriano described the performance as “sexually charged.”

The timing was not lost on State Sen. Steve Santarsiero (D), who has been a strong supporter of the program and secured a $630,000 state grant for The Rainbow Room in October.

Referring to his colleague Mastriano, Santarsiero explained in a statement: “As it happened , a couple of hours before the gentleman circulated his co-sponsorship memo, someone at Fox Digital contacted my office and asked me to comment on the fact that I had sponsored what she described as a ‘drag queen event.’ Whether there was a connection between that inquiry and the issuance of the memo, I will not speculate in deference to our Senate rules. What I will relate however is that within hours since then I have had a number of people (and, perhaps, bots as well) almost entirely outside of Pennsylvania let alone my district, calling me a ‘groomer’, ‘deviant’, ‘pedophile’ and other hateful epithets on social media.”

Mastriano represents Franklin and Adams Counties in south central Pennsylvania and lost his bid for the governorship in November by 14 points, or nearly 800,000 votes. He is an election denier and was present at the insurrection in Washington on January 6, 2021.

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