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Arizona Senate Republicans Seeking to Ban Children From Drag Shows – The Epoch Times

Arizona Senate Republicans plan to craft legislation prohibiting children from attending drag shows because of their sexual nature.

“If men want to dress as women, and if adults want to participate in watching these hyper-sexualized performances, they have the freedom to do so,” according to a June 14 joint statement by the Arizona State Senate majority team.

“It crosses the line when kids are subjected to these drag shows.”

Arizona state Sen. Vince Leach (R-Tucson) spearheads the legislative effort, saying the main goal is to protect children against inappropriate behavior.

“Impressionable youngsters are going into a room [and] being exposed to things that are distasteful, disgusting, and wrong,” Leach said.

Leach said controversial drag shows at the University of Arizona, the Heard Museum of Native Cultures and Art in Phoenix, Arizona, and Tucson Magnet High School (TMHS) underscore the need for such legislation.

“The drag queen shows I’ve [seen in photographs] are terrible. You can’t unsee them,” Leach said.

“That is absolutely wrong in my world and many worlds. Vince Leach has had enough. Vince Leach is going to do something to see what can be done. This is key to protecting our children.”

Two counselors who lead the LGBTQ+ student club at TMHS organized the drag show in May. Police arrested one of the counselors on charges of having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old student.

“Policies of ‘nondiscrimination regarding gender expression and sexual orientation’ are sending a message to society that we should disregard morals and values just to normalize these unscientific, broad, ill-defined and subjective terms,” the Arizona Senate Republicans added.

The group said these policies set a “dangerous precedent” for young children.

While admitting a “fine line” in freedom of speech, Leach said, “I also feel I have a very strong responsibility to protect children.”

He said drag shows expose children to highly sexualized behavior when they look to older people—”particularly teachers”—as role models.

“These kids, particularly kindergarteners, first-graders, second-graders, are probably being told, ‘We’re going to this.’ They don’t have the right, or the ability, to leave, as you do if you’re an [adult].”

The legislator said it is ironic that rules exist against inappropriate touching in schools, but “we have kids putting dollar bills in [drag queens’] G-strings? I can’t connect those dots in my mind.”

Arizona’s Senate Republican initiative dovetails with efforts in other states which seek to ban or criminalize drag shows that allow children to attend.

Texas state Rep. Bryan Slaton says he will file a bill to ban drag shows in the presence of minors throughout the state.

“I promised my voters that I would stand up for their values to protect Texas kids,” Slaton said in a June 6 statement.

“I was re-elected on that promise, and I intend to keep it by authoring legislation to defend kids from being subjected to drag shows and other inappropriate events.”

Slaton’s announcement follows several news stories in which Texas minors were exposed to “inappropriate sexual content by adults.”

“As a father of two young children, I would never take my children to a drag show, and I know Speaker Dade Phelan and the rest of my Republican colleagues wouldn’t either.

“Protecting our own children isn’t enough, and our responsibility as lawmakers extends to the sexualization that is happening across Texas.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, meanwhile, is looking to ban drag shows following a public outcry over videos of a Dallas Pride Month drag show aimed at children.

Leach said the Arizona bill would strike a balance between freedom of expression and protecting children against sexualized conduct by adults.

“I’m trying to find a way that doesn’t take anybody’s rights away—that doesn’t interfere with private entities,” Leach said.

“This is not a left-right issue—this is the next generation and what is in their minds.”

Allan Stein

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Allan Stein is an Epoch Times reporter who covers the state of Arizona.

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