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Press Release: State Rep. Jamie Gragg Shares Concerns about Ozarks Pridefest

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – State Rep. Jamie Ray Gragg (HD-140) is issuing the following statement to express concerns with the City of Springfield regarding the upcoming 2023 Ozarks Pridefest taking place in downtown Springfield on June 10th featuring drag performances and the effects it will have on children and families in the Ozarks community.

“I would like to ask the City of Springfield and it’s sponsors to reconsider this type of event, as it will expose our children to performances that should not be considered age appropriate for our youth.” Gragg, R-Ozark, said. “My interest here is in protecting our children from themes and experiences their minds are not prepared to comprehend. I am concerned that some of the financial sponsors of this event would put their support and backing behind any event labeled as a “Family-Fiendly Event” with performances that are extremely sexualized in nature and headlined by “Crystal Methyd”. Drag performances might be an expression of art, but not all art mediums are appropriate for all ages, and I question the wisdom of placing such forms of entertainment into public areas where it will be easily viewed by anyone without safeguards.”

Gragg referred to a letter issued by Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey to the Missouri School Board Association following an instance involving school students from the Columbia Public School District being exposed to a drag show performance, in which he wrote that “Drag shows are inherently sexualized performances. They are an outward expression of a desired sexuality and sexual identity. They are intended to draw attention to human sexuality in a manner that appeals to prurient interests.”

Building upon those concerns, the Missouri legislature this session heard two bills seeking to discourage the presence of minors at drag shows. One House bill would have classified drag venues as “sexually oriented businesses” while another would have banned adult cabaret performances, including “male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest,” in a public location or a place where a minor could see the performance.

Gragg says he is strongly committed to helping the passage of such bills in order to protect the values and morals of the community and defend children from witnessing such performances that are inappropriate for the viewing of minors. “I will fight to protect Missouri families.”