Florida Governor and recent GOP presidential nominee, Ron DeSantis, has now added another group to his growing list of enemies.
This time it’s furries. And it’s all thanks to a passage in SB 1438 also known as the Protection of Children Act.
On Wednesday, the organisers of the Orlando-based furry convention ‘Megaplex’ released a statement to Twitter regarding the attendance of minors to the convention.
DeSantis’ Protection of Children Act makes ‘knowingly admitting a child to an adult live performance’ a first-degree misdemeanour. It is punishable by a year of prison and/or a $1,000 fine.
In their statement, Megaplex acknowledged the ‘concerns about recent changes in Florida legislation.’ They shared that after reviewing the SB 1438 ‘it has been decided that for legal reasons and protection of our attendees, our venue, and the overall convention, Megaplex 2023 attendees must be 18 years of age at the time of registration pickup.’
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The organisers added that it ‘was very difficult’ to make this change after having ‘welcomed younger fandom members and their families since its inception.’ They said they were ‘looking into options for events and activities to include all age rangers and their family members.’
Furries are often perceived as an inherently sexual community, and whilst there is a smaller number of people within the wider community who do treat it as a kink, it is not an accurate representation of the whole group.
Any aspects that are NSFW are often scheduled for later in the night to ensure the majority of the convention is family-friendly, as well as sectioning off adult vendors so that cannot be viewed by minors.
The convention’s decision to bar minors from the event is seen as another example of how the Act is suppressing LGBTQ+ individuals. Especially because SB 1438 is primarily being used to limit drag performances, another community that is incorrectly viewed as primarily sexual.
Nearly 80 percent of the furry fandom identify as LGBTQ+ according to a survey.
Joelle, a found of Moms of Furries, an organisation supporting children who are furries and their parents, told Rolling Stone: ‘Furry has become synonymous with LGBTQ since there is such a large intersection of communities.’
It is also important to consider that many furries identify as transgender, meaning they would unlikely feel safe at a convention in Florida. The state recently passed a law making it a trespassing offence for someone to use a bathroom that does not match with the sex they were given at birth.
Many sympathised with Megaplex’s decision, acknowledging the difficulty of making such a decision and directing their anger at DeSantis. Although some accused the organisers of caving to pressure from Florida lawmakers.
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