Another drag show was advertised to children in South Dakota, this time in the capital city. It’s far past time to stop advertising these events to children. There is no such thing as a “kid-friendly” drag show – no matter how they try to disguise it.

Last year we saw South Dakota State University host a drag show advertised to minors, which resulted in a public outcry from parents, citizens, and legislators. A bill was brought to the House that attempted to ban “the use of state resources in hosting lewd or lascivious content” in the 2023 legislative session, which died in the Senate after a failed calendaring vote. 

Earlier this spring, the Board of Regents adopted a new “minors on campus” policy which prohibited minors from attending any performances that meet the definition of a “specifically sexual activity” as defined in SDCL 11-12-1.15. The policy also required that events be properly advertised with disclaimers when sexually explicit material is expected.

In spite of the efforts of the legislature and the policy changes made by the Board of regents, the Pierre Area Center for Equality (PACE) hosted another drag show last week which they advertised as “family friendly.”

The schedule detailed on PACE’s website includes an hour for a “family-friendly drag show” and another hour of “drag storytime” followed by a “family dance party.” One of PACE’s board members tried to downplay the gravity of these events targeting children by calling the drag show a “talent show with lip syncing and fun costumes.” But we know the reality of what similar events have held in the past: seductive clothing, vulgar lyrics, and overtly sexual performances that are desensitizing children to adult sexuality.

We know why drag performers continue to invite children to their events – they want to make kids comfortable with sexualized performances. They use phrases like “reducing feelings of shame” in children, which we know is simply code for: “we know this makes kids uncomfortable, and we will continue doing it until we make them comfortable with it.”

It’s time for parents to stand in the gap to protect the innocence of our children, and we need to hold accountable the corporations and businesses supporting these events. Join us as we continue to stand on the fact that these events should not be advertised to children.