The Republican-dominated state House of Representatives is launching another attack on adult entertainment, this time by redefining the word “adult.”
HB 1379 would prohibit “...employment of persons younger than 21 years of age in adult entertainment establishments.” Violations would be second-degree felonies. This would prevent anyone under 21 from working in “strip clubs.”
That doesn’t just include dancers. Bartenders, servers, and other support staff would also need to be 21+.
The reason given for the bill is to cut down on human trafficking. HB 1379 passed the Regulatory Reform & Economic Development subcommittee and is now being reviewed by the Judiciary committee.
HB 1379 cites that Florida is ranked third nationally in human trafficking cases, and accuses adult entertainment venues as being fertile recruiting grounds to “coerce” young people.
Charles Horton, owner of LeBoy in Fort Lauderdale, says responsible clubs look out for their employees and sees this as an attack on young adults trying to start their life.
“We always have plenty of dancers. What it affects is job choices for 18–21-year-olds. I run a fun club. The dancers work when they want. They enjoy the atmosphere.”
Horton says LeBoy, which just celebrated its ninth anniversary, has open lines of communication with employees.
“The dance manager is primarily there for dancers' safety. I’m also very approachable. Most dancers are comfortable speaking ... and do regularly with concerns and suggestions.”
Florida Republicans have made it a habit to tell people, parents, their children, and other adults what they can and cannot do with their bodies. In recent years, they’ve restricted care for trans kids, trans adults, reproductive care, drag entertainment, enacted “Don’t Say Gay,” banned books for K-12 students and banned courses for college students.
This latest attack, raising the age to work in an “adult” venue, may stick. While you only need to be 18 to vote and die for your country, invasive laws, like raising the age to buy tobacco to 21, have passed legal muster.
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