Petition circulating to prohibit drag shows in Idaho

The Idaho Family Policy Center is calling upon the Idaho State Legislature to enact legislation to prohibit drag shows in public places or other areas where children are present.
Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 11:53 AM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — The controversy concerning drags shows in Idaho continues to stir up debate here in the Gem State, in the wake of the Kid’s Drag Show in Boise being canceled after drawing fire from the Idaho Republican Party as inappropriate and costing the Pride Festival a trio of sponsors. Now one group wants drag shows permanently canceled in Idaho, to the anger and frustration of others.

The Idaho Family Policy Center is calling upon the Idaho State Legislature to enact legislation to prohibit drag shows in public places or other areas where children are present. The group has started a petition.

“In less than two days we have had over 3,500 concerned Idahoans: grandparents, parents who don’t want this type of garbage in public places where children are present,” said Idaho Family Policy Center President Blaine Conzatti.

Additionally, he said the Idaho State Legislature has a constitutional responsibility under the Idaho State Constitution to enact legislation that promotes public morality and public virtue. He said drag shows are highly sexualized performances and unsafe for children.

“It’s like a strip tease. They are dressed in sexually provocative clothing. They engage in dancing and other performance-type material that is entirely sexual in nature,” Conzatti said.

He said one of the inspirations for the petition was a drag performance in Coeur d’Alene in which observers reported that a drag performer exposed his genitals to an audience that included children. However it was reported that many observers did not see the performance and instead saw an edited video of the performance on social media where the performers genitals are blurred out. After an investigation prosecutors said an unedited version of the performance debunked the claim the dancer’s genitals were exposed to the crowd.

“So we have taken a look at the unedited footage, and we can confirm that the genitalia did come out,” Conzatti said.

However, some wonder if Conzatti and others have ever seen a drag show. Twin Falls community advocates Arya Walker and Brandon Connolly said organizers of Pride Events and drag events go to great lengths to make sure performers’ routines and outfits are suitable for all-age events where children are present. They said they are not aware of any performer doing a “sexualized” performance in front of children.

“So the whole gimmick of we’re going to shows and we’re seeing a kid in the audience and we’re showing our genitals is just outrageous. Like nobody is doing that even in regular adult shows nobody showing their genitals,” said Walker who also performs in drag. “You would be kicked out of the club for doing that. I have never been to a drag show where genitals have been shown”

Walker and Connelly have helped organize all-age-appropriate events in Twin Falls like Reading in Drag with Kids. Additionally, Walker said drag shows are safe for kids, and children who attend them do it by choice and often with their parents.

“It’s not always like what they assume. It’s a male kid dressed up as a woman,” said Walker. “I have had more than 50 percent of my performances in Twins Falls female-born performers dressing up in female clothes, lip-syncing songs,” said Walker. “The only time that they are unsafe is when the people who threaten to hurt people because these are happening and create that unsafe environment.”

However, Conzatti feels there needs to be some legal reform even if children are attending these shows by choice or with parental consent.

“We don’t believe that a parent has the right to consent to their child viewing this type of sexually explicit garbage,” said Conzatti. “We don’t allow children to perform in strip clubs. We should not allow children to perform in drag shows.”

However, Connolly counters that if people want to protect children, drag shows are not the place to start.

“How about we protect children with stricter gun laws so we don’t have these scary shooting events that we have in our schools,” said Connolly. “There are other ways to protect children than drag shows where it is appropriate to bring children. It’s taking away the right of the parent.”

The IFPC petition has some loaded language stating, “...These creeps are using our children as pawns for their perverse sexual desires”. When asked if he thinks drag performers are pedophiles, Conzatti said:

In response, Connolly said, “It’s infuriating to think how uneducated people are to assume this(drag performance) is for pedophiles trying to get to children.”

Connolly and Walker have created a counter petition called Freedom for Kids in Idaho Drag Shows.

“The reason we created a counter-petition was to show that this was not public opinion, and that there are so many people in Idaho who are completely pro-drag shows and pro-LGBTQ rights,” Walker said.

In a statement Democratic House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel in part said:

In contrast IDGOP Chair Dorothy Moon said: