Florida Governor Signs Sweeping Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed legislation banning state funding for diversity, equity and inclusion programs at the state’s public universities.[0] The governor staged the event at New College of Florida, which he has transformed into a conservative higher education experiment.[1] This move is part of a larger trend, where Republican leaders have made cracking down on LGBTQ+ and in particular trans people a central part of their platform. Florida alone has already passed more anti-LGBTQ legislation this session than it did in the seven years prior. Texas is on track to pass more than double the number of similarly anti-LGBTQ laws than it did over that same period.

In addition to the ban on diversity programs, DeSantis signed four bills targeting transgender people, in what’s been described as the most impactful series of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in state history.[2] One bill further places restrictions on gender-affirming care for trans children and adults. To avoid losing their medical license, medical facilities must assure the state Department of Health that they will not offer gender-affirming care or referrals for children.[3] The law prohibits minors from accessing gender-affirming treatment, including puberty blockers, and criminalizes providing such care to transgender youth with a third-degree felony.

Another bill signed by DeSantis, HB 1521, requires people to use bathrooms that line up with their sex assigned at birth.[4] Gender-inclusive restrooms and changing facilities are not allowed in schools, public shelters, healthcare facilities, and jails under the new bill.[3] A third bill signed Wednesday by DeSantis, House Bill 1438, prohibits establishments from admitting minors to an “adult live performance,” which includes drag shows. It takes effect immediately.[5]

On Wednesday, DeSantis signed a bill that forbids children from attending an “adult live performance” at establishments. Although the legislation does not explicitly mention drag shows, DeSantis clarified that its purpose is to limit such events. There are these adult performances known as drag shows that can be sexually explicit and provocative.[5] DeSantis stated that individuals have the freedom to engage in adult entertainment as they choose.[6] Having minors present in such a situation is inappropriate, especially when there are explicit shows being performed that an 8-year-old girl should not be exposed to.[4]  

DeSantis stated that the initialism for “diversity, equity and inclusion” should be viewed as “discrimination, exclusion and indoctrination” due to its implementation across the country, and he believes that such practices have no place in public institutions.[0] This bill says the whole experiment with DEI is coming to an end in the state of Florida.” The bill DeSantis signed, effective immediately, will grant Florida temporary custody of children whose parents provide them with gender-affirming care.[7] The proposal would additionally prohibit the utilization of government funds to finance such treatment for individuals, comprising grown-ups.[5] If health care providers breach the measure, they might be subject to a felony offense that carries a maximum prison sentence of five years.[5]

Groups advocating for LGBTQ+ rights have criticized the wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in Florida and Texas, calling it a “slate of hate” against the community. The bills passed by DeSantis and other Republican leaders have been described as discriminatory and exclusionary, targeting a vulnerable group of people. The fight for LGBTQ+ rights continues, with advocates vowing to challenge these laws in court and fight for equality and inclusion.

0. “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs a bill banning DEI initiatives in public colleges” NPR, 15 May. 2023, https://www.npr.org/2023/05/15/1176210007/florida-ron-desantis-dei-ban-diversity

1. “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis mocks protesters, bans diversity funding” USA TODAY, 15 May. 2023, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2023/05/15/florida-gov-ron-desantis-mocks-protesters-bans-diversity-funding/70219124007/

2. “New Florida laws target transgender care, bathrooms, drag shows, pronouns” Pensacola News Journal, 17 May. 2023, https://www.pnj.com/story/news/politics/2023/05/17/desantis-signs-3-bills-targeting-transgender-gender-affirming-care-bathrooms-drag-shows/70227878007/

3. “DeSantis Signs Bill to Allow State to Take Trans Kids Away From Their Families” Truthout, 18 May. 2023, https://truthout.org/articles/desantis-signs-bill-to-allow-state-to-take-trans-kids-away-from-their-families

4. “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/

5. “DeSantis signs ‘Don’t Say Gay’ expansion and gender-affirming care ban” NBC News, 17 May. 2023, https://www.nbcnews.com/nbc-out/out-politics-and-policy/desantis-signs-dont-say-gay-expansion-gender-affirming-care-ban-rcna84698

6. “DeSantis cancels ‘pronoun olympics’ for students, teachers and says it’s ‘not happening’ in Florida” Fox News, 17 May. 2023, https://www.foxnews.com/politics/desantis-cancels-pronoun-olympics-students-teachers-says-not-happening-florida

7. “DeSantis signs bill defunding diversity programs at Florida colleges” NBC News, 15 May. 2023, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/desantis-signs-bill-defunding-diversity-programs-florida-colleges-rcna84481

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