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Florida’s Under-21 Ban For Strippers Challenged

Florida's HB 7063 restricts anyone under 21 from working in an "adult entertainment establishment," including strip clubs, adult bookstores, and sex shops. Lawmakers' stated aim is to crack down on human trafficking in the area. For that reason, the law also precludes minors from working jobs that involve alcohol and requires some groups to post signs with the phone number of the Florida Human Trafficking Hotline.

Serenity Bushey, a 19-year-old strip club entertainer, along with two strip clubs and one sex shop, filed a lawsuit in federal district court to challenge the new law. Bushey lost her job at Café Risque (one of the parties to the suit) because of the law. She regularly performed at the strip club and "earned her living through her art while providing entertainment for the benefit and enjoyment of her audience." The four parties argue that "the human body is a thing of beauty, which, when combined with music and rhythmic motion in the form of dance, conveys an important message of eroticism." Plaintiffs contend that providing this "form of expressive communication" offers important benefits to society, including an enhanced appreciation of the human body and human sexuality, "with an emphasis on the consideration of popular contemporary concepts of physical attractiveness." The law precludes these employers from using under-21 workers for many other positions, like clerks, cooks, food servers, barbacks, and DJs.

Plaintiffs contend the law is overly broad, unconstitutionally vague, and violates their First Amendment rights. They state the Legislature did not narrowly tailor the law or consider less restrictive forms of regulation and does not “measurably advance any significant governmental interest. Entities that "knowingly" hire workers under the age of 21 may face criminal penalties. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals is considering whether a similar Jacksonville, Florida, law restricting the age of exotic dancers violates the First Amendment.