OPINION: Stop correlating drag queens with pedophiles

Bringing a child to a drag show is not inherently abuse, and such an accusation can be dangerous. ORACLE PHOTO/ MARCELENE PILCHER

Senate Bill 1438, or the Protection of Children bill, was filed on March 2, according to The Florida Senate.It would give the Business and Professional Regulation authority to fine or revoke the license of businesses that admit children to live adult performances.

Some said this law would tighten restrictions for establishments that allow minors into drag queen shows, according to a March 21 article from The Tampa Bay Times. Additionally, there was a congressional meeting with the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 21 where advocates for the bill called the spread of the LGBTQ community’s presence very disturbing and compared its exposure to children to child abuse.

To claim that the LGBTQ community is trying to sexually abuse children is an appalling mischaracterization. In the case of drag shows, it diminishes the very purpose of these events — allowing people to express themselves and celebrate their breakaway from traditional gender norms.

Charles Suor, president of the Trans+ Students Union at USF, expressed concerns over the bill.

“Picking drag queens is especially concerning for a trans person because these hateful folks just see trans people as drag performers. Of course we aren’t but they don’t want to learn that. In my opinion, it’s a first step to even heavier anti-trans legislation,” Suor said in a March 27 interview with The Oracle. 

The perception that gay and trans people are specifically attracted to children is a sadly popular stereotype used against the LGBTQ community. Most recently, the term “grooming,” or when adults befriend children as a means to engage in sexual activity with them, has become a buzzword among conservatives to deride the entire community, according to a 2022 article from NPR.

In spite of this, most sources have shown that a majority of child predators are actually heterosexual. Only 20% of people on the U.S. sex offender registry are part of the LGBTQ community, according to a 2022 study by the UCLA School of Law.

People within the LGBTQ community have also spoken out against child predators. Several viral Facebook images that tried correlating the community with pedophiles were dismissed by LGBTQ activists and groups as being “not representative of the LGBTQ community,” according to a 2020 article from USA Today.

The LGBTQ community has indeed seen a massive growth in recent years, with children themselves developing an interest in drag shows. However, the interest that kids have in drag events is not because of any sexual content. It’s due to children liking the concept of dressing up in unique, colorful costumes, which has even helped kids relieve stress in their lives, according to CBC.

There are drag shows that are more adult-oriented in content, and therefore shouldn’t have children involved. However, there are also plenty of toned-down drag events aimed toward families, according to a 2022 report from The New York Times.

 The sooner that conservatives realize not every drag show is overtly sexual, the better.