June 10, 2022


GLAAD, the world's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization; Drag Queen Story Hour, an LGBTQ literacy organization; and Transinclusive Group, which advocates to protect and defend equality for Transgender and LGBQ+ individuals in South Florida, are responding to increased anti-LGBTQ sentiment and misinformation targeting drag queens, specifically all-ages Pride events for families and children, and Drag Queen Story Hour readings at libraries.

Misinformation and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric spread by politicans and in media have escalated about LGBTQ content for youth, now expanding to targeting drag performances.

●      In a May 27 letter and press release regarding a Pride month event at a U.S. Air Force base in Germany, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio inaccurately referred to drag queen story hours as “sexually charged content.” The event was canceled in response.

●      Last week, after protesters flung slurs outside an all-ages fundraiser for an LGBTQ youth organization at a Dallas gay bar, Texas Rep. Bryan Slaton announced he planned to introduce legislation banning minors from drag shows.

●      On Monday, threats of violence led to the cancellation of a Drag Queen Story Hour at a Pride festival in North Carolina. The event was reinstated on Thursday after Equality North Carolina stepped in.

●      Also on Monday, Florida Rep. Anthony Sabatini proposed legislation that would charge parents with a felony and strip them of custody if they allowed their children to attend a drag show or reading.

●      On Wednesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a press conference that he would explore using existing child protective statutes to fast-track a ban on minors at drag performances.

More than 225 anti-LGBTQ bills have been proposed around the country targeting evidence-based and lifesaving healthcare, LGBTQ and race-inclusive books, curriculum, and censoring classroom conversation. 85% of LGBTQ youth say the moves in state legislatures have negatively affected their mental health, and the CDC reported an increase in LGBTQ teens considering and attempting suicide in 2021. Nineteen children were shot and killed in their classroom in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24th, and to date no lawmaker proposing bans on drag performances has proposed reforms to reduce gun violence.

Quote from GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis

“Real threats to children include gun violence in school and baseless legislation that bans lifesaving healthcare. One in four LGBTQ teens attempted suicide last year. Let’s focus on actual problems facing students, and hold lawmakers accountable to keeping all kids safe from real harm.”

Statement from Drag Queen Story Hour

“Drag Queen Story Hour could not be more disappointed in disingenuous politicians who are trying to score points by attacking programs like ours, which use drag as a traditional art form to promote literacy, teach about LGBTQ lives, and activate children's imaginations.  Let's be clear: DQSH provides age-appropriate programming, and we routinely receive praise from parents and educators who are delighted that we offer children safe spaces to express themselves and support one another.  Rather than address real threats across the country — like the devastating epidemic of gun violence — right-wing politicians are spreading dangerous conspiracy theories about, and inciting violence against, drag performers and LGBTQ communities.  This is part of a coordinated campaign to deny the rights of LGBTQ people, who already endure disproportionate rates of suicide and homelessness, and legislate us out of existence.  Any attempt to criminalize our work is rooted in tired homophobic and transphobic hate and misinformation, and we refuse to give in to politicians who are too bigoted and boring to comprehend our vision for a world in which every child can be safe fully expressing who they are.”

Statement from Tatiana Williams, Executive Director of Transinclusive Group

“So many of the legislative attacks against our youth are rooted in these old beliefs and the knowledge that trans and LGBTQ+ kids are the most vulnerable among us and can’t necessarily advocate for themselves. These continued attacks and this latest attempt to criminalize drag shows when kids are around speaks to how when some people think about our LGBTQ+ community, they can only perceive us through this lens of fear and negativity as they try to fit us into this box and view us as this ‘other.’ Drag is here and it has always been here as a part of our community. Banning drag shows out of a misguided fear that some youth might find a sense of connection with the LGBTQ+ community would be an invasion of parents’ rights to raise their children and support them as their authentic selves. When we think of educating our youth about the world, about acceptance, and about LGBTQ+ people and history, these efforts to erase our visibility are never the answer.”

On Thursday, GLAAD posted a video interview with Drag Queen Story Hour board member and children’s book author Lil Miss Hot Mess, who was specifically targeted in Rubio’s press release. While GLAAD’s interview with Lil Miss Hot Mess was recorded prior to Rubio’s actions, she responded to Rubio on Twitter here, calling Rubio’s comment “an attack…on the lives of LGBTQ+ people.”  The incident came exactly one year after Lil Miss Hot Mess was targeted by anti-LGBTQ activists for reading from her book on the PBS program Let’s Learn.

●      To learn more about Drag Queen Story Hour, visit the organization’s website here.

●      GLAAD’s guide to reporting on book bans and school censorship is here

●      The #BooksNotBans coalition letter signed by GLAAD and over 600 other organizations and individuals is here.