Florida bill seeks to punish venues that admit children to an ‘adult live performance’

HB 1423, ‘Protection of Children,’ also seeks criminal penalties

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Rep. Randy Fine, R-District 33, filed a bill in the state House on Friday that seeks to empower the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to fine, suspend or revoke the license of a public venue if it admits a child to see an “adult live performance,” defining that term and calling for certain violators to face criminal charges.

“Unfortunately, we’ve got adult entertainers, men dressing up as women, that think it’s OK to perform sexual programs before children in the state of Florida. That’s not going to happen and we’re going to have this legislation to make sure it stops,” Fine told News 6.

HB 1423 serves as companion legislation to SB 1438, which was filed Thursday in the Florida Senate by Sen. Clay Yarborough, R-District 4. Titled “Protection of Children,” the House bill can be accessed in the embedded viewer below. In it, definitions are given for the terms “adult live performance” and “knowingly,” so far as the latter term applies to probable cause that a child was “knowingly” allowed to witness such a performance.

HB 1423 by Brandon Hogan on Scribd

According to the bill, venues would be subject to inspection and inquiry — including subpoenas — based on “general knowledge of, reason to know, or a belief or ground for belief” that someone willingly brought a child to the kind of performance in question, with the person accompanying said child meant to face a first-degree misdemeanor as their own punishment.

The delicensing threat comes with the “full power and authority” the Department of Business and Professional Regulation would be granted in the bill to follow through with, including the ability to fine venues $5,000 for first violations and $10,000 for seconds and onwards.

For “knowingly,” adding to the “general knowledge...” line above, the bill states that someone’s “ignorance of a child’s age, a child’s misrepresentation of his or her age, or a bona fide belief of a child’s consent” can’t be used as a defense.

“There’s no parental right to child abuse and exposing children to adult sexual performances is child abuse, and if people do that, there’s going to be consequences,” Fine said.

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The offered definition of an “adult live performance” is supplemented in large part by virtuous language, such as references to content “offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community in this state” or content which lacks “serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for the age of the child present.” In these instances, for example, no further explanation is given of the “prevailing standards” that the bill mentions, or of what age a child is supposed to be for said “literary, artistic, political, or scientific value” to be relevant.

“I’m not aware of a lot of female strippers performing for children right now, I’d be interested to know that there are, but what we have is men dressing up like strippers and somehow the woke left thinks that’s OK,” Fine said, after being asked whether the legislation was meant to target drag shows specifically. “... Is it an attack on the heterosexual community that you can’t take children to a strip club?”

We asked Fine to reference any data or examples of why the issue was currently a priority for him.

“Well, there have been issues that the media has covered where disgusting, adult sexual entertainers have performed in front of children. I don’t need to do your research for you. Frankly, I’ve seen the stories on the news,” Fine said.

In December, The Orlando Philharmonic Plaza Foundation hosted a Christmas drag queen performance that was attended by children, according to state officials. The show featured performers engaging in “simulated sexual activity,” exposing their buttocks and wearing prosthetic female genitalia, a complaint by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation claims.

Though the bill makes no mention of private venues, Fine told us that both public and private spaces would be subject to the legislation, giving an example of a street performance where “unsuspecting parents with their children might have been walking by to get from point A to point B and stumbled into it,” adding “this stuff’s going to end in Florida.”

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About the Author:

Brandon, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021. Before joining News 6, Brandon worked at WDBO.