Pride Parade Canceled Over Florida’s ‘Protection Of Children’ Bill

Officials in southeast Florida canceled a pride parade and limited other associated events to people aged 21 and older in anticipation of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signing a bill prohibiting kids from attending “lewd” adult performances.

“After multiple meetings with city officials, it is with a heavy heart that Pride Alliance of the Treasure Coast has to announce that this weekend’s Pridefest will now be a 21 and older event,” a notice on the organization’s page said.

WPTV reported that the Treasure Coast Pridefest event took place at the MIDFLORIDA Event Center in Port St. Lucie after city officials and organizers reached an agreement.

“We are obviously upset and dishearten[ed] that it has come to this,” the organization also wrote, announcing a future “family friendly Party in the Park” event “where our youth can celebrate who they are.”

Senate Bill 1438, also called the “Protection of Children” bill, passed Florida’s House on April 19, 2023. It prevents governmental entities from issuing permits or authorizing events that allow children at “adult live performances” and includes penalties for venue licensees that violate it.

The legislation defines “adult live performances” as any show in front of a live audience demonstrating “lewd” conduct or the inappropriate exposure of an adult’s private parts.

Although the bill does not contain the word “drag,” its opponents, such as the America Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida, argue it is a “blatant attempt to erase drag performers and silence the LGBTQ+ community.”

“Nothing in our legislation would limit a pride parade,” Florida House Rep. John Snyder (R) told WPBF. Snyder reportedly told the outlet that the bill does not concern drag shows and that the Treasure Coast Pridefest event would not have had to change anything.

“What we’re focused on is a common sense approach, standing up for the protection and innocence of our children,” he said.

“This is the one date a year where they can go out and just openly be themselves,” Pridefest organizer and performer Shelita Taylor told WPBF ahead of the event.

“And it’s been all taken away because of bigotry and hate,” Taylor added.