Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, takes part in a state Senate committee hearing at the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday, April 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Marc Levy) Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin
Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, takes part in a state Senate committee hearing at the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday, April 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Marc Levy)

In Doug Mastriano’s latest anti-LGBTQ+ crusade, he wants to restrict drag shows from being performed anywhere minors could be in attendance.

Just because he didn’t get to bring his anti-LGBTQ+ agenda to the governor’s office doesn’t mean Doug Mastriano is through with targeting members of the community. 

Citing a concern for the “welfare and protection of our children,” the far-right Republican state Sen. from Franklin County plans to introduce a bill that would ban drag shows on public property or in areas that can be seen by minors.

In a co-sponsorship memo, Mastriano said his proposed bill would classify drag shows as an “adult-oriented business,” placing restrictions on where they could take place and age limits on who could attend.

Mastriano mentions in the memo an October 2022 Queer Prom event at the Rainbow Room in Bucks County — which Planned Parenthood established over 20 years ago to be a safe place for LGBTQ+ youth — as an example for his reasoning behind the proposed legislation. He described it as “a sexually charged drag show for audience members as young as 13.”

In an open letter to his Senate colleagues in response to Mastriano’s memo, Sen. Steve Santarsiero (D-Bucks) disputed Mastriano’s characterization of the Rainbow Room event, which he attended “both as an elected official sponsoring it and as a parent.” Santarsiero’s youngest son, who came out as gay last year, attended the prom with friends.  

“I can only assume that this distortion, written by someone who was not present, is based on the fact that one student and one recent alum of the Rainbow Room dressed in drag and danced at the request of the prom committee,” Santarsiero wrote in the letter. “That can hardly be grounds for describing the hours-long prom as a “drag show.”  As for it being sexually charged, I will not attempt to get into (Mastriano’s) mind to decipher what exactly he meant by that phrase, although I note that it is one that is most often used by those, who, solely on their own authority, take on the mantle of arbiter of morality in ironic disregard of the biblical admonition against judging. I would simply suggest that it might be a challenge to find a prom in America at which someone would not be offended by what they would consider inappropriate behavior or dress.”

At the end of his letter, Santarsiero said “no LGBTQ+ child in this country should have to live with the hate that has been unleashed here.”

Mastriano closes his memo by saying  “drag shows that appeal to minors on school property, libraries, and other public places should not be accepted in any functioning society.”.

This kind of homophobic rhetoric is on-brand for Mastriano, who thinks gay marriage should be illegal, and that LGBTQ couples shouldn’t be able to adopt children. He has also likened LGBTQ-friendly curriculum to “grooming” and “indoctrination,” and said it’s “madness” to include gender identity under federal anti-discrimination laws.

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