BREAKING: Florida House of Representatives Passes “Stop WOKE Act”

by Delphine Luneau

The Human Rights Campaign Urges the Florida Senate to Oppose HB 7/SB 148

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Florida House of Representatives passed the “Stop WOKE Act,” House Bill 7 / Senate Bill 148. If signed into law, the bill would limit protected speech in workplaces with more than fifteen employees and classrooms by censoring honest dialogue about systemic racism, gender, and race discrimination. It would also change Florida’s employment discrimination statutes to give employees the ability to file discrimination claims against an employer engaging in trainings or discussions about Black history, LGBTQ+ issues, and other concepts of injustice and discrimination. Senate Bill 148 now heads into Senate committee consideration.

“This bill is a thinly veiled political attempt to attack marginalized communities. It doesn’t address the critical needs of Floridians, but instead, fuels the discriminatory agenda of extremist legislators,” said Cathryn M. Oakley, State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel at the Human Rights Campaign. “Let’s be clear — the negative consequences of the “Stop WOKE Act'' will ripple across Florida. It will hurt the LGBTQ+ community, people of color, and women. Every historically marginalized population will be impacted by this legislation.”

The Human Rights Campaign also opposes the “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” bill (HB 1557 / SB 1834), which is also on the House agenda today. If enacted, this dangerous bill would prohibit teachers from talking about LGBTQ+ issues or people, undermining existing protections for LGBTQ+ kids in schools.

Legislative Attacks on LGBTQ+ People

  • In 2021, 25 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were enacted in states across the country — 13 of which were anti-transgender laws across 8 states — making it the worst year on record for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

  • More than 290 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced across 33 states in 2021, including more than 140 specifically anti-transgender bills. Each of these marks set a new record for anti-equality legislation being introduced and enacted in a single state legislative session since the Human Rights Campaign began tracking legislation.

A Coordinated, National Effort to Fear Monger and Marginalize LGBTQ+ People

  • Groups like the Heritage Foundation, Alliance Defending Freedom, Eagle Forum, and others are at the helm of this effort, seeking to use LGBTQ+ rights as a political wedge.

  • These bills are the result of a concerted effort by right-wing organizations that have been battling against LGBTQ+ progress for years. Across recent elections, one of the key anti-equality groups working to turn back decades of LGBTQ+ progress has been the American Principles Project (APP). APP and its chief underwriter Sam Fieler have invested millions of dollars in support of anti-LGBTQ+ candidates. In 2020, APP spent more than $2.6 million in ad spending in support of anti-equality candidates. In Virginia in 2021, APP spent at least $300,000 on digital advertising in support of Glenn Youngkin’s gubernatorial campaign.

  • Restoration PAC, run and funded by major anti-LGBTQ+ bankroller Dick Uihlein, spent at least $1.9 million in advertising across Virginia in support of Youngkin and donated $942,000 to the political arm of anti-abortion group Women Speak Out Virginia. Anti-equality group Free to Learn Action launched a $1 million ad campaign spreading widely debunked anti-transgender misinformation in support of Youngkin’s campaign.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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