Texas Lawmaker Vows to Outlaw Kids Attending Drag Shows

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday June 8, 2022

Texas State Rep. Bryan Slaton
Texas State Rep. Bryan Slaton  (Source:Screencap/Facebook/Bryan Slaton)

The trend of state GOP lawmakers attacking the LGBTQ+ community has continued with a Texas lawmaker smearing a family-friendly drag show as "horrendous" and "sexualizing," vowing to introduce a bill to criminalize children attending such shows, local ABC affiliate WFAA reported.

"Republican Bryan Slaton (R — Royse City) tweeted Monday, 'I would never take my children to a drag show,'" the news channel detailed.

But Slaton didn't stop at explaining how he would exercise his own parental rights; he vowed to take those decisions away from other parents, as well.

"I will be filing legislation to address this new issue," Slaton's tweet added.

The issue — not so new — of children attending drag events, such as family-friendly drag shows and drag story hours at public libraries, has become more of a cultural flash point in recent years, and baseless claims of adults "sexualizing" and "grooming" children have become constant talking points on the anti-LGBTQ+ right in the months since Florida state lawmakers passed the "Don't Say Gay" law, which criminalizes classroom discussion of LGBTQ+ issues. Critics of the law say it will further muzzle, marginalize, and imperil already-endangered LGBTQ+ youth.

Slaton adopted the provocative language used by GOP lawmakers, going so far as to claim "a law was necessary to protect children from 'perverted adults,'" NBC News detailed.

Slaton also attempted to justify using his position as a lawmaker to impose his personal brand of parenting on other families, declaring that "Protecting our own children isn't enough and our responsibility as lawmakers extends to the sexualization that is happening across Texas."

But it was Slaton whose priorities were skewed, "RuPaul's Drag Race" star Alyssa Edwards, a Texas native, tweeted. Noting that "Drag is an art form which is subjective," Edwards slammed Slaton for focusing on children attending drag shows instead of working to prevent a repeat of the recent school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, in which a lone gunman slaughtered 19 children and two adults.

"You, sir, have tweeted more about #drag than the loss at #Uvalde. Is this truly about children or politics?" Edwards tweeted, adding: "#Priorities"

Others on Twitter echoed the sentiment.

Others lambasted the lawmaker for his failure to grasp the concept — much discussed among Republicans lately — of "parental rights."

And even more mounted a spirited defense of the arts.

As previously reported at EDGE, "The event, held at bar Mr. Misster and titled 'Drag the kids to pride,' was billed as a family-friendly spin-off of their Champagne Drag Brunch that would allow kids to dance with performers on stage."

Local news outlet WFFA reported that "During the event, drag performers danced and walked down the aisle in the center of the room. At times, the dancers would take dollar bills from some of the children. Kids also walked with the dancers down the aisle during the event."

"As news about the event circulated, it drew protesters from a group called 'Protect Texas Kids' outside the bar and online who hoped to stop the event before it even began," the EDGE article said.

"Other videos on Twitter show protestors attempting to push their way into the bar, but the context of those videos is difficult to ascertain."

Threatening behavior from protestors at drag events that are designed to be age-appropriate fare for children is far from unknown. Last summer a deluge of death threats and other hate messages prompted the cancellation of a drag story hour that had been scheduled to take place at a museum in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Also last summer, a transgender performer's "Drag Magic Show," planned to take place at a library in Gillette, Wyoming, was canceled due to death threats.

In 2019, an armed protestor refused to leave a Houston library while a "Drag Storytime Event" was in progress. Police escorted the gun-toting trespasser from the building.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.