Tampa Pride Festival Canceled After Florida Cuts Off Access to Children

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The Tampa Pride on the River event has been canceled due to the series of anti-groomer bills passed by the Florida legislature and signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), which in part imposes penalties on establishments that expose children to sexually explicit drag shows and similar adult performances.

DeSantis recently signed a series of anti-groomer legislation designed to protect children from the radical left’s woke gender agenda, which includes pushing transgender ideology and gender confusion on minors. One of the pieces of legislation signed is titled the “Protection of Children,” or HB 1438, which imposes fines on establishments that allow children to attend sexually explicit adult shows, such as drag shows.

The Associated Press

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis holds up bills he signed during a bill signing ceremony at the Coastal Community Church at Lighthouse Point, Tuesday, May 16, 2023, in Lighthouse Point, Florida. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

“We’re going to hold you accountable. … When you have adult entertainment, you have these sexually explicit performances, there should not be any of these kids there. And this is going to make sure that that’s the case,” DeSantis said ahead of signing the bill into law.

As a result, Tampa Pride President Carrie West recently told outlets that their festival has been canceled, apologizing for the series of events that led to that decision, as there would be drag queens performing at the public event, which children would be easily exposed to as last year’s event occurred along the river walk. As a result, participating businesses could face penalties.

“Lot of famous Ru Paul drag queens that come in for the event,” West said, according to WFLA. “People come flying in for that event just to see the famous drag queens.”

World of Wonder founders Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato (C) and RuPaul's Dragrace contestants attend the 4th Annual RuPaul's DragCon at Los Angeles Convention Center on May 12, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/FilmMagic)

World of Wonder founders Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato (C) and RuPaul’s Dragrace contestants attend the 4th Annual RuPaul’s DragCon at Los Angeles Convention Center on May 12, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/FilmMagic)

Very sad,” she said, describing it as a “fun event.”

The legislation itself authorizes the Division of Hotels and Restaurants of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to “fine, suspend, or revoke the license of any public lodging establishment or public food service establishment if the establishment admits a child to an adult live performance,” per the bill’s text.  The DeSantis administration has identified drag shows as falling into the adult show category and has targeted these sexually explicit performances in the past as well.

VIDEO: Watch: Hundreds of Drag Queens, “Allies” Chanting “Ron DeSantis Has Got to Go” in Florida Capitol:
Carlos Guillermo Smith/POLITICALLY+ /TMX

“People already, they’ve been talking about it, they’ve been making plans to come to Tampa, fly to Tampa, drive to Tampa,” West added, apologizing for the cancelation of the festival, which she claims attracts up to 20,000 visitors.

“I’m sorry that this has happened, but you are going to be the generation to make the change,” West said.

HB 1438 served as only one piece of the series of anti-groomer bills DeSantis recently signed into law, as he also signed HB 1521, “Ensuring Women’s Safety,” which requires separate public restrooms and changing facilities based on biological sex rather than gender identity, as well as SB 254, which outlaws surgical procedures and “experimental puberty blockers” for children who claim to be the opposite sex.

RELATED: Lizzo Brings Drag Queens on Stage to Protest TN Legislation Banning Drag Shows Around Kids
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