Story at a glance
- The Florida governor in a complaint filed this week against R House in Miami alleges the restaurant broke state law by hosting drag brunch events with children in attendance.
- The complaint alleges the establishment violated Florida public decency law, citing a 1947 state Supreme Court ruling.
- If the complaint is successful, the restaurant’s liquor license could be revoked.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) this week filed a complaint against a Miami restaurant after a video of children attending a drag show at the establishment was posted by the popular right-wing social media account LibsofTikTok and shared thousands of times.
DeSantis in the complaint filed Tuesday against R House, which hosts drag brunch events, alleges the restaurant violated state law and cites a 1947 state Supreme Court ruling that “men impersonating women” in a “suggestive and indecent” fashion constitutes a public nuisance.
In hosting drag performances in the presence of young children, the restaurant has also violated a state disorderly conduct statute and a separate statute prohibiting the operation of a business “for the purpose of lewdness,” according to the complaint, a copy of which was obtained by Changing America.
If the complaint is successful, R House’s liquor license could be revoked.
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“Having kids involved in this is wrong,” DeSantis said Wednesday during a press conference. “That is not consistent with our law and policy in the state of Florida, and it is a disturbing trend in our society to try to sexualize these young people.”
“That is not the way you look out for our children,” DeSantis continued. “You do not expose them to things that are inappropriate.”
The complaint reflects a larger crusade spearheaded by DeSantis and his administration against ideas or issues they consider inappropriate for children. The state made national headlines earlier this year when it passed its Parental Rights in Education law – known to its critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” law – which prevents public school teachers from discussing topics including sexual orientation and gender identity with their students .
The state’s Board of Education last year banned critical race theory from public school classrooms, grouping it in the same category as Holocaust denial and other “theories that distort historical events.” DeSantis has called critical race theory, which addresses systemic racism in the United States, “state sanctioned racism,” alleging it will teach children to “hate each other.”
On Thursday, Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr., a former Republican state senator who voted to pass the “Don’t Say Gay” law, warned school leaders across the state in a memo that following recent guidance from the Biden administration to expand Title IX protections for transgender students could violate state law.
During his press conference on Wednesday, DeSantis said the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation had begun an investigation into R House in Miami after being made aware of a video posted by LibsofTikTokwhich frequently posts photos and videos of LGBTQ+ people and events to stir controversy and fuel outrage.
In the video, a drag performer holds the hand of a young girl and leads her around the restaurant during a performance.
“The video shows what appears to be a transgender dancer leading a young girl by the hand and walking through respondent’s dining area,” the complaint states. “The dancer’s buttocks were fully exposed, and his ‘g-string’-style bikini bottom was stuffed with dollar bills — a practice that is commonly known to occur at strip clubs. The dancer’s breasts — unmistakably female in appearance — were also fully exposed except for the nipple and areola, which were covered with adhesive ‘pasties.’”
In a statement to the Miami Herald, R House ownership called the incident a “misunderstanding” and said it is working with the state through an attorney to “rectify the situation.”
“We are hopeful that Gov. DeSantis, a vocal supporter and champion of Florida’s hospitality industry and small businesses, will see this as what it is, a misunderstanding,” the restaurant’s owners said, adding that they hope the matter “will be resolved positively and promptly.”
Published on Jul. 29, 2022