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House GOP bill would ban federally funded drag queen shows for kids

Republican lawmakers have pitched a measure that would ban the use of taxpayer money for sexually explicit programs targeting kids, such as New York City’s “drag queen story hour.”

The “Stop the Sexualization of Children Act” was introduced Tuesday by Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) and more than 30 House Republicans have signed on.

The bill would prohibit federal funds from being used to promote “sexually-oriented” materials to children under the age of 10.

The bill defines “sexually-oriented” as the “depiction, description, or simulation of sexual activity, any lewd or lascivious depiction or description of human genitals, or any topic involving sexual orientation, gender identity, gender dysphoria, or related subjects.” 

“The Democrat Party and their cultural allies are on a misguided crusade to immerse young children in sexual imagery and radical gender ideology,” Johnson said in a statement. “This commonsense bill is straightforward. No federal tax dollars should go to any federal, state, or local government agencies, or private organizations that intentionally expose children under 10 years of age to sexually explicit material.”

Rep. Mike Johnson.
Rep. Mike Johnson called his new legislation a “commonsense bill” that protects children and taxpayers.
Getty Images

The legislation notes that agencies like the Department of Defense have used federal funds in the past to “promote and host burlesque shows and drag shows on Federal property during family-oriented events.” 

Recent viral videos of explicit drag queen story hours and drag queen events with children present have outraged some parents and conservative lawmakers, leading some to call for bans. 

Footage of a Texas drag queen lifting her skirt and gyrating in front of a young girl sparked a social media frenzy recently and had some state lawmakers pledging legislative action.

A drag queen reads a book to an audience.
The bill would ban federal funds from being used in “depiction, description, or simulation of sexual activity, any lewd or lascivious depiction or description of human genitals, or any topic involving sexual orientation, gender identity, gender dysphoria, or related subjects” in programs for kids under the age of 10.
Getty Images

“Disgusting and entirely inappropriate for any child,” state Rep. Bryan Slaton wrote on Twitter of the incident

“A drag show is no place for a child. I am committed to protecting kids from these sick displays,” he continued. 

It’s unclear if any federal funds were used to promote the Plano, Texas, drag brunch show. 

In  New York City, taxpayer money was used last year to treat kids between the ages of 3 and 7 to a virtual “drag queen story hour” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  

San Francisco-based drag performer Lil Miss Hot Mess regaled kids with a dramatic reading of her book “The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish” in the New York state Department of Education-funded production. 

A drag queen next to a person wearing a dinosaur costume inside of a library.
Drag queen story hours across the country have outraged some parents and lawmakers.
Boston Globe via Getty Images

In Idaho, state lawmakers hope to introduce a bill banning drag performances in public venues early next year.

“No child should ever be exposed to sexual exhibitions like drag shows in public places, whether that’s at a public library or a public park,” Idaho Family Policy Center President Blaine Conzatti told a local paper, equating the performances to blackface.

“You overemphasize certain natural characteristics so much that it becomes a caricature of itself,” he said.

Johnson’s bill is unlikely to pass if Democrats maintain control of the House and Senate after the midterm elections. 

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