Drag queen bingo and a “Queer Art Storytelling Tour” are among several Pride Month programs for corporate workers and their families that have gone online as conservatives target in-person events aimed at children.
Confetti, a U.S.-based website that books virtual corporate team-building events, said Friday that businesses have booked nearly 400 of the virtual events so far this month. That includes about 100 Drag Queen Bingos.
The company’s other virtual events for this year’s annual gay rights celebration include an “LGBTQIA+ History & Culture Trivia” game and an “LGBTQIA+ Cultural Impact Class.”
“On top of making marginalized individuals feel equal at work, companies plan these themed events for people outside of that marginalized community to better connect and empathize with their team,” said Lee Rubin, Confetti’s CEO and founder.
Mr. Rubin said in an email that the booking site is working with professional LGBT vendors to provide the virtual events — some of which are more family-friendly than others – as gestures of allyship to the LGBT community.
He said Drag Queen Bingo, an hourlong virtual event hosted by a professional drag performer on Zoom, comes in either a “PG” version “good for all ages” or an “Anything Goes! version” that allows “mild profanity and more risqué jokes.”
“It’s a great way for people unfamiliar with drag to get acquainted with an art form created by the LGBTQ+ community all while supporting the community itself,” Mr. Rubin said, adding that the events “put money into [the drag queens’] pockets.”
The virtual Pride events arrive as conservatives target “family-friendly” drag shows open to small children as young as preschoolers at public schools, libraries, parks and gay nightclubs. The events also include drag queen story hours, makeup sessions, brunches and dance performances.
Photos and images posted on social media from recent Pride Month events have shown small children tipping drag performers.
In one video of a Pride parade that Turning Point USA posted on Twitter Sunday, a drag performer on a float tells a crowd that includes children: “We have genitals and lube.”
Republican state lawmakers in Arizona and Florida are drafting legislation that would make it a crime to take children to drag events, which Arizona Republicans said this week promote “sexual perversion.”
Several of the in-person drag events have drawn protest from parents.
In Texas earlier this month, protesters mobbed a family-friendly drag brunch at the Mr. Misster Dallas gay nightclub. Social media videos of the event show young children tipping drag queens at the bar, which features a sign that reads: “This doesn’t lick itself.”
On Tuesday, a Vermont man was arrested in New Hampshire for threatening his child’s school over the idea of a drag show on campus.
Pam Benigno, director of the Education Policy Center at the free-market Independence Institute in Denver, said many parents don’t want LGBT advocates promoting drag events to their children.
“Public schools should be focused on academics and not sexualizing children through drag queen performances, which can be risqué and inappropriate in a school setting,” Ms. Benigno said. “If some parents are comfortable exposing their children to adult entertainment, then they can take their children to a drag show.”
This year’s emphasis on drag queen events comes as activists promote transgender identity in response to GOP-led measures in states like Florida and Texas that restrict children’s access to gender transition surgeries and sexual identity discussions in the classroom.
On Wednesday, President Biden signed an executive order asking federal health and education officials to expand access to gender-affirming medical care and find ways to counter the recent flood of bills.
“These attacks are real and consequential for real families,” Mr. Biden said.
Conservatives have pushed back on these claims.
In a statement issued Friday, the parental rights group Moms for America accused Mr. Biden of pandering to “the LGBTQ agenda of transgenderism” for a small group of Americans rather than focusing on “real issues” like rising gas prices and inflation.
“While mothers watch their babies suffer because there is a lack of formula in this country, the Biden administration wants you to know that it is making transgenderism the law, ignoring Congress and the voice of the American people,” Kimberly Fletcher, the group’s president, said in a statement.
In a report last week, the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute estimated that 1.6 million Americans aged 13 and older identify as transgender — about 0.6% of the general population.
Other studies have shown that transgender children are at greater risk of mental health struggles and sexual violence than peers who accept their gender at birth.
Whether they occur online or in person, LGBT advocates say family-friendly Pride Month drag events and gender discussions are necessary to normalize the experiences of children who switch genders.
Child psychiatrist Helen Egger, co-founder of children’s mental health app, Little Otter, said “the key is to communicate acceptance.”
“Given that children begin to explore gender identity as early as 3 years of age, it is important that children are supported in exploring different language, activities, interests and behaviors during this time,” Dr. Otter said in an email.