TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Senate passed legislation Tuesday that would punish venues and hosts that allow children to attend live adult entertainment performances.

What You Need To Know

  • The Florida Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would punish venues and hosts who allow children to attend live adult entertainment performances

  •  Violators could face fines or the suspension of their business licenses

SB 1438, known as the Protection of Children Act, would usher stiff penalties against violators, including a fine of up to $10,000 and suspension of the business' liquor license. 

“Our children are highly valued, and parents want to ensure that they are protected,” said Jacksonville Republican Sen. Clay Yarborough, the bill sponsor. “We are protecting children who, again, cannot unsee, unhear or unexperience things to which they are exposed.”

Passage of the measure comes just one day after a GOP lawmaker rebuked transgender individuals at a committee hearing on a separate proposal, which would regulate restroom use by gender. The remarks angered Democratic lawmakers and activists alike. 

“We have people that live among us today on planet Earth that are happy to display themselves as if they were mutants from another planet,” said Deltona Republican Rep. Webster Barnaby, who later apologized. 

Democratic members, throughout the debate on Tuesday, reminded fellow senators of Barnaby’s remarks. His words, they said, highlight the adversity members of the LGBTQ+ community experience, socially and politically. 

“This rhetoric can directly lead to violence, as we have seen,” said Boca Raton Democratic Sen. Tina Polsky on the Senate floor.

Critics of the drag show bill say they fear the bill’s language is too vague, particularly the key term of “adult live performance.” That, they say, leaves room for a broad interpretation, which may further affect events like parades and festivals.

The drag show bill will appear next in the House for a final vote. There, outnumbered Democrats say they will make a final stand. House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell says the measure is one of many undermining minority communities.

“There is fear and misunderstanding around transgender Floridians,” said Driskell. “How unfair is it to take that out on these kids, especially the young people, who we know are already marginalized?”