Florida Governor Signs Anti-LGBTQ+ Bills into Law, Targeting Transgender Community

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a series of bills into law this week that target the LGBTQ+ community, particularly transgender individuals. The bills include restrictions on gender-affirming care for transgender adults and children, bans on children attending drag shows, and limitations on how schools teach about and engage with LGBTQ+ identities. The bills also prohibit public universities from spending money on diversity, equity, and inclusion programs.[0]

One of the bills prohibits transgender children from receiving gender-affirming treatments, including prescriptions that block puberty hormones or sex-reassignment surgeries. Under the law, a court can temporarily remove a child from their home if they receive gender-affirming treatments or procedures, and it treats such health care options, which are supported by the American Medical Association, the same as it would a case of child abuse.[1]

The newly passed laws quickly drew criticism from Equality Florida, which called this the “largest slate of anti-LGBTQ bills in one legislative session in the state’s history.” Joe Saunders, the senior political director of the LGBTQ+ advocacy group, also criticized the bills, noting that they are part of the largest slate of anti-LGBTQ+ bills in one legislative session in the state’s history.

The bills also require that a physician administer gender-affirming care to adult patients in person, barring the use of telehealth and other healthcare workers, like nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants, to begin care.[2] Physicians who breach those provisions may be charged with a misdemeanor of the first degree.[2] The bills also target trans adults: only physicians are allowed to offer gender-affirming care (not nurse practitioners). A misdemeanor charge may be imposed on individuals who break the law.[3]

Another bill requires people to use bathrooms that align with their sex assigned at birth.[1] The legislation prohibits educational institutions from mandating that individuals refer to one another using pronouns that do not correspond with their sex assigned at birth. In addition, it will forbid school employees who are transgender from disclosing their preferred pronouns to students.

At New College of Florida, a liberal arts school in Sarasota, DeSantis signed the bills and revamped the board of trustees to convert the college into a conservative establishment.[4] [5] To support DeSantis’ plan of transforming New College into a “classical” liberal arts institution with a more conservative perspective, Republican legislators have committed to providing an extra $34 million this year.[4]

Advocates and allies criticized the legislation, arguing that the bills will harm the LGBTQ+ community, which already faces higher rates of discrimination and violence.[6] “I feel very strongly as governor, but also just as a dad of a 6-, a 5- and a 3-year-old that we need to let our kids just be kids,” DeSantis said during Wednesday’s news conference.[7] “We have a very crazy age that we live in.[8]

0. “Ron DeSantis wades into Bay Area college protests controversy” SFGATE, 16 May. 2023, https://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/ron-desantis-snipes-at-bay-area-colleges-18102764.php

1. “DeSantis signs transgender bathroom bill, bans gender-affirming care, expands ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law” The Hill, 17 May. 2023, https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/4008737-desantis-signs-transgender-bathroom-bill-bans-gender-affirming-care-expands-dont-say-gay-law/

2. “SB 254: Why transgender advocates call new law Florida ‘abduction’ bill” Pensacola News Journal, 17 May. 2023, https://www.pnj.com/story/news/politics/2023/05/17/florida-sb-254-florida-abduction-transgender-bill-now-law-what-it-does/70206291007/

3. “Ron DeSantis Signs Drag Ban So Extreme It Could Cancel All Pride Parades in the State” The New Republic, 17 May. 2023, https://newrepublic.com/post/172750/ron-desantis-signs-drag-ban-extreme-cancel-pride-parades

4. “Florida’s ban on DEI spending becomes official as DeSantis enacts college reforms” POLITICO, 15 May. 2023, https://www.politico.com/news/2023/05/15/desantis-enacts-floridas-dei-ban-00096934

5. “DeSantis signs bill to defund DEI programs at Florida public colleges” CNN, 15 May. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/05/15/politics/desantis-signs-dei-defunding-bill/index.html

6. “DeSantis signs 5 new bills into law targeting the LGBTQ community” WFTV Orlando, 17 May. 2023, https://www.wftv.com/news/local/desantis-signs-5-new-bills-into-law-targeting-lgbtq-community/SNZPBQKCGRAAFB4WSUAVZC46OA

7. “DeSantis signs bills affecting LGBTQ community” ABC News, 17 May. 2023, https://abcnews.go.com/US/desantis-signs-bills-affecting-lgbtq-community/story?id=99393976

8. “Gov. DeSantis signs controversial bills targeting LGBTQ+ issues” WJXT News4JAX , 17 May. 2023, https://www.news4jax.com/news/politics/2023/05/17/watch-live-gov-desantis-holds-news-conference-bill-signing-at-tampa-private-school/

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