A Florida law that bans children from attending live adult entertainment is even impacting the state's furry community.
SB 1438, also known as the “Protection of Children Act,” prohibits people from “knowingly admitting a child to an adult live performance." In order to comply with the law, a large furry convention in the state is barring anyone under the age of 18 from attending.
Megaplex wrote that “legal reasons and protection of our attendees, our venue, and the overall convention” forced the decision, writing in a statement that the convention "has welcomed younger fandom members and their families since its inception" and that "making this change was very difficult."
A study published on the National Library of Medicine explains that furries are “individuals who are especially interested in anthropomorphic or cartoon animals." Many “often strongly identify with anthropomorphic animals and create 'fursonas,' identities of themselves as those anthropomorphic animals.” While this sometimes features sexual themes, it is not inherently sexual.
Democratic state Senator Tina Polsky said that while "this furry thing has nothing to do with the bill whatsoever," Megaplex's decision is an example of the "chilling effect" Florida's law is having on freedom of speech and expression.
“I don’t know these people. I don’t know why they did it, except I read their statement. And they said that in an abundance of caution because of this bill, they don’t want anyone to get into trouble, they could lose licenses or even worse," she said in an episode of On Balance with Leland Vittert.
"That’s the point I’m trying to make, is that way beyond the words, the text in the bill, is the chilling effect of any kind of ‘adult entertainment’ or even non adult entertainment, like a furry convention, which is not necessarily sexual in any way, is being affected."
Florida is one of over a dozen states who have attempted or implemented such "adult entertainment" restrictions, typically targeting drag queens. Montana has specifically outlawed certain drag shows in its legislation, banning drag queens from reading to children in public schools or libraries.
Polsky added: “It’s the parents. Let the parents decide what’s right for their kids. If they want to take their kids to a drag show brunch with someone who’s dressed up as Mrs. Doubtfire reading a book, let them.”