WaPo column accuses DeSantis of ‘weaponizing’ protective services after opposing kids at drag shows

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A Washington Post opinion piece ripped Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for his vehement opposition to kids attending drag performances after video from the “Drag Your Kids to Pride” show in Texas went viral last week, accusing him of “weaponizing” child protective services for “political gain.”

“Fresh off defending parental rights in education, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has a new cause: using the power of the state to harass parents who see drag performances as family entertainment,” columnist Alyssa Rosenberg wrote.

Rosenberg noted DeSantis’ complaints that children should not be exposed to drag performances, citing his quotes that, “We have child protective statutes on the books,” and “we may have the ability to deal with something like that” before accusing other conservatives of weaponizing similar issues – including medical interventions for “transgender children.

“We should name this vile trend for what it is: child exploitation for political gain,” she added.

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U.S. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, U.S. February 24, 2022.
(Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

Rosenberg went on to discuss the devastating impact CPS investigations can have on families, calling the process “invasive” and “disruptive” and saying that asking parents to defend their integrity even if negligence claims against them are proven baseless and asking children to “defend the way they’ve been raised” can prove burdensome.

“The consequences of turning an important, high-stakes tool for ensuring child welfare into a culture-war instrument are almost too awful to contemplate,” she said in the piece. 

The article also alleged that DeSantis’ rhetoric invoking protective services could prompt people to weaponize these measures against others as a form of “abuse or persecution.”

Drag queens Athena Kills (C) and Scalene Onixxx arrive to awaiting adults and children for Drag Queen Story Hour at Cellar Door Books in Riverside, California on June 22, 2019. 
((Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images))

“The only way to preserve autonomy for all families is for the government to refrain from trying to adjudicate parenting decisions that are matters of taste and personal politics.

“Even conservative parents who regard drag performers with horror should be wary of hurling themselves down this slickest of slippery slopes,” she wrote, asking whether CPS should be called on parents who allow their children to watch R-rated films or expose their children to pornography or White supremacy.

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“It’s one thing for a family to suffer through a CPS ordeal because of someone else’s mistake or tragic misjudgment. But to whip up false moral panics over drag queens or covid caution — to subject parents and children to investigation as a form of gleeful political point-scoring — is outrageous,” Rosenberg said. 

Outrage ensued elsewhere after footage showed children walking down the runway and drag queens dancing before them as sexually suggestive signs glowed in the background at a gay nightclub in Dallas last week.

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Gov. DeSantis is far from the only lawmaker enraged by the footage, however. In Texas’ policy realm, state Rep. Bryan Slaton vowed to introduce legislation that would ban children from attending drag performances, telling “Fox & Friends First”  that “children just need to be children” last Wednesday. 

Taylor Penley is a production assistant with Fox News.

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