In a recent development, Florida’s staunchly conservative Governor enacted a series of legislative measures that critics argue disproportionately target the LGBTQ+ community.
Five newly instituted laws include prohibitions on gender-affirming healthcare, limitations on restroom access for transgender individuals, and curbs on drag performances.
This latest legislative barrage amplifies an increasingly adverse atmosphere for LGBTQ+ individuals in the state, largely attributed to the Governor’s declared opposition to what he dubs “woke ideology”.
Legislation enacted includes House Bill 1438, which curtails drag shows, and House Bill 1069, extending the existing ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law. Moreover, Senate Bill 254 proscribes gender-affirming healthcare, while House Bills 1521 and 225 respectively impose restrictions on restroom access for transgender individuals and their participation in youth sports.
Just two days prior, the Governor, speculated to be a potential Presidential contender, authorized Senate Bill 266. This law curtails equity efforts within Florida’s educational system by withdrawing funding for diversity, equality, and inclusion programs at the state’s public universities.
The Governor espoused his belief that the new laws would position Florida as a “refuge of sanity”. He appeared to contrast the state with others in the U.S. that have self-proclaimed their status as safe havens for LGBTQ+ individuals escaping inhospitable environments such as Florida. He said, “We need to let our kids just be kids,” going on to describe Florida as a bastion of normalcy.
Human rights organizations and progressive politicians have voiced strong objections to the Governor’s ongoing onslaught against the LGBTQ+ community. The Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) president, Kelley Robinson, described Republicans passing these bills in Florida as among the most virulently anti-LGBTQ+ legislators in the country. She critiqued the Governor for centering his legislative agenda and potential Presidential campaign on scapegoating the LGBTQ+ community.
In the face of this adversity, the HRC plans to join forces with various legal teams to challenge SB 254, citing the potential harm that restricting gender-affirming care could inflict upon transgender youth. Meanwhile, Kristine Kippins, Lambda Legal’s deputy legal director for policy, condemned the Governor’s enactment of these laws on the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia.
There are indications that the Governor’s campaign against the LGBTQ+ community is set to continue, with an impending bill that would discourage cities from establishing non-discrimination ordinances. Collectively, the anti-LGBTQ+ laws signed into law exceed the sum of such state legislation passed over the preceding seven years, according to the HRC.
Democratic State Senator Shevrin Jones, himself a member of the LGBTQ+ community, voiced opposition to these measures, commenting that, “Every parent has the right to raise their child the way they want to as long as your child is not gay, trans [or] bisexual. That’s freedom for some parents, but not for all parents.”