The Florida State Senate approved Republican state Sen. Clay Yarborough’s bill that increases penalties if kids are allowed at performances that depict sexual conduct or lewd exposure. The Senate passed the bill 28-12 and the Florida House version is still working through the committee process.

A summary of the proposed legislation reads, “Protection of Children; Authorizes Department of Business Regulation to fine, suspend, or revoke license of any public lodging establishment or public food service establishment that admits child to adult live performance; specifies that violation constitutes immediate, serious danger to public health, safety, or welfare; authorizes fines for first, second, & subsequent violations of certain provisions; specifies that DBPR may revoke or suspend license of person found to be maintaining licensed premises that admits child to adult live performance; prohibits raising of specified arguments as defense in prosecution for certain violations; prohibits person from knowingly admitting child to an adult live performance.”

Critics in Florida Democratic Party, which is significantly outnumbered and suffered its most devastating gubernatorial defeat in history, say that the bill targets transgenders and drag shows.

“We’re here because of drag shows,” said Democratic State Sen. Tracie Davis during her time on the Senate floor. “People find drag shows morally reprehensible and inappropriate. They want to ban them because they are viewed as unnatural.”

State Sen. Linda Stewart, who represents the most lopsided Democratic state senate districts, asserted that the bill targeted “vulnerable” members of the population, but Stewart wasn’t referencing children as the vulnerable members.

“Protecting the children of this state is our most sacred duty, but because this bill isn’t really about protecting children, I stand in opposition,” said Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando. “This unmistakably targets certain members of our population with a vague restraint on their freedom of expression all with a goal of intimidating vulnerable members of our population.”

he Senate and the House version, sponsored by Melbourne Beach Republican Rep. Randy Fine, would make it a first-degree misdemeanor to “knowingly” admit minors to “adult live performances that appeal to “a prurient, shameful, or morbid interest,” or violates what adults deem proper for children to see.

Matt O'Hern
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