How the LA Zoo is sexualizing kids with ‘family friendly’ drag shows

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The “Drag Show” phenomenon—in which adult men dress up in scantily clad women’s clothing, gaudy makeup, and often wear female prosthetics to mimic women—has evolved past adult night clubs and forced its way into children’s spaces under the guise of “family-friendly” events. Despite what the hosts of these events would have you believe, there is nothing family-friendly about them. Simply put, they are glorified strip shows and they are giving your kids a front row seat to watch.

I first exposed these predatory events last year at the “Mr. Misster” Bar in Dallas, Texas, which brought national attention to the issue. Like the majority of “family-friendly” drag shows, the Mr. Misster event featured performers that stripped and danced in front of kids, all while the parents sat back, sipped their cocktails, and handed dollar bills to their children to tip the drag queens on stage. 

Despite widespread criticism of this event, “family-friendly” drag shows have spread like wildfire across the country and made their way into Drag Queen Story Hour at your local library and most recently the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens.

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The L.A. Zoo marketed this event, not only to children but to infants under the age of 2 and invited performers like Harrison Fortner, who goes by the stage name Valora Von Tease. Fortner is a Los Angeles-based drag performer who shows himself on social media smoking drugs, in kink, wearing bondage gear, and in sexually explicit photos. This is who the L.A. Zoo invited children and toddlers to see.

Before covering the event, I spoke with the Zoo’s Director of Equity Programs Jessica Niven-Kohring who insisted there was nothing sexually charged about the event. Despite these claims, I witnessed highly sexualized performers fondling themselves, grabbing their genitals, and cursing in front of a crowd of adolescents. After the event, Kohring refused to answer me when I asked if he stood by his previous statement.

Our society has deemed certain things inappropriate for children to consume: alcohol, porn, and even R-rated movies. We implemented these restrictions because we understand that children do not have the maturity or mental capacity to engage in such behaviors and doing so could be dangerous and cause harm to them.

As I watched these adult men stripping in front of innocent, impressionable kids, I couldn’t help but ask why they would be so adamant about performing in front of children and why our society was allowing it to happen. 

How the LA Zoo is sexualizing kids with 'family friendly' drag shows

FILE – People line up at the entrance of the LA Zoo on it’s re-opening day, amid the coronavirus pandemic on February 16, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. The Los Angeles Zoo was shut down for the second time during the pandemic, on December 7, 2020, due to the state’s Stay-at-Home order. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP) 

Our society has deemed certain things inappropriate for children to consume: alcohol, porn, and even R-rated movies. We implemented these restrictions because we understand that children do not have the maturity or mental capacity to engage in such behaviors and doing so could be dangerous and cause harm to them. 

The only reason drag shows have been exempt from this “adults only” list is because these events fall under the umbrella of LGBT culture and promote a social justice agenda of not just tolerance but acceptance, even for children. 

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This notion has shielded drag events from criticism and any such criticism has been deemed as hateful. The hosts of these “family friendly” drag events know that in today’s society, as long as you hold a rainbow flag up while you do it, as long as you identify as an oppressed “marginalized” group, the rules don’t apply to you. 

What we’re seeing now is a result of this slippery slope of social justice. While many parents strive to raise their children to be tolerant and inclusive of others despite their differences, their intentions have been completely abused.

How the LA Zoo is sexualizing kids with 'family friendly' drag shows

This isn’t just “playing dress up with kids” as they claim. This isn’t about self-expression, gay pride, or gay rights. This is about sexualizing children. 

It doesn’t matter whether the adults involved are well-intentioned. The result nonetheless is kids being indoctrinated with sexual propaganda . 

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Children have a notion of what is considered normal due to their innocent lack of reference and lived experience. The images and experiences they are exposed to become their new normal, which is why it is so important to protect children’s innocence and not push LGBT narratives in schools and libraries. 

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PragerU is educating, informing, and spreading awareness about these difficult but important issues with its “Protect Children’s Innocence” campaign.   

There is a blatant attempt to groom children before our very eyes and ultimately it’s conditioning them into accepting a radical gender ideology. 

How the LA Zoo is sexualizing kids with 'family friendly' drag shows

Is it any surprise that 1 in 5 Gen Z individuals identifies as being a part of the LGBT community? What about a recent report showing prescriptions for puberty-blocking drugs among minors doubling between 2017 and 2021? 

We have seen an explosion of gender dysphoria in American children with cases more than doubling in recent years. Children are more confused about their own identity than ever before because of exposure to sexually charged images and gender ideology influencing them in schools, in mainstream pop culture, and now in places like libraries and zoos. 

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Parents have a right to decide what their child consumes and their opposition to drag shows, especially in public places and in front of children, doesn’t make them homophobic or bigoted. It makes them protective of their kids’ innocence. 

We have a moral obligation to keep the most innocent in our society safe and protect them from harmful, graphic material. This starts with recognizing that there is no such thing as a “family-friendly” drag show and erasing them from American public life. Nothing less than the innocence and future of our children are at stake. 

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