BREAKING: Florida Senate Passes Expansion of ‘Don't Say LGBTQ+’ Bill

by HRC Staff

Bill Designed to Double Down on Governor's Agenda of Curriculum Censorship

Tallahassee, Florida – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, condemns Florida’s Senate for advancing House Bill 1069, which would expand Gov. Ron DeSantis’s shameful “Don’t Say LGBTQ+” law.

HB 1069 targets LGBTQ+ youth and educators by banning instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity from Pre-K through 8th grade and forcing school staff and students to misgender one another. The bill is designed to double down on the governor's agenda of curriculum censorship that has already led to book banning, the removal of Safe Space stickers from classroom windows, and refusals to recognize LGBTQ+ History Month. The Senate is considering a similar bill, SB 1320.

In response, HRC’s Legislative Counsel Courtnay Avant released the following statement:

“LGBTQ+ youth are already struggling with the weight of discrimination both inside and outside of the classroom. HB 1069 does nothing to alleviate the burdensome stigma and isolation that they face. Instead, this impossible-to-comply-with bill intentionally blocks teachers from providing the safe and inclusive spaces that LGBTQ+ youth so desperately need. To be clear: there is nothing inappropriate about being LGBTQ+ or in acknowledging LGBTQ+ issues and people in the classroom. The Human Rights Campaign strongly condemns this discriminatory bill and will continue fighting for Floridians who deserve to exist freely and proudly.”

Last week, Gov. DeSantis proposed to expand his shameful “Don’t Say LGBTQ+” bill to all grades. The proposal, which would not require legislative approval, is scheduled for a vote next month before the state Board of Education and has been put forth by the state Education Department, both of which are led by appointees of the governor. The rule change would ban lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity from fourth to twelfth grade unless required by state standards or as part of a reproductive health course that parents can opt students out of. DeSantis’ initial law, passed last year, bans those lessons in kindergarten through third grade.

So far in 2023, HRC is tracking more than 470 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been introduced in statehouses across the country. More than 190 of those bills would specifically restrict the rights of transgender people, the highest number of bills targeting transgender people in a single year to date.

This year, HRC is tracking:

  • More than 110 bills that would prevent trans youth from being able to access age-appropriate, medically-necessary, best-practice health care; this year, nine have already become law in Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, South Dakota, Utah, Iowa, Georgia, Kentucky and now West Virginia.

  • More than 25 bathroom ban bills filed,

  • More than 85 curriculum censorship bills and 40 anti-drag performance bills.

In a coordinated push led by national anti-LGBTQ+ groups, which deployed vintage discriminatory tropes, politicians in statehouses across the country introduced 315 discriminatory anti-LGBTQ+ bills in 2022 and 29 passed into law. Despite this, fewer than 10% of these efforts succeeded. The majority of the discriminatory bills – 149 bills – targeted the transgender and non-binary community, with the majority targeting children receiving the brunt of discriminatory legislation. By the end of the 2022 legislative session, a record 17 bills attacking transgender and non-binary children passed into law.

Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in 2022 took several forms, including:

  • 80 bills aimed to prevent transgender youth from playing school sports consistent with their gender identity. 19 states now exclude transgender athletes in school sports.

  • 42 bills to prevent transgender and non-binary youth from receiving life-saving, medically-necessary gender-affirming healthcare. 5 states now restrict access to gender-affirming care.

  • 70 curriculum censorship bills tried to turn back the clock and restrict teachers from discussing LGBTQ+ issues and other marginalized communities in their classrooms. 7 passed into law.

More than 300 major U.S. corporations have stood up and spoken out to oppose anti-LGBTQ+ legislation being proposed in states across the country. Major employers in tech, manufacturing, hospitality, health care, retail, and other sectors are joining with a unified voice to say discrimination is bad for business and to call on lawmakers to abandon these efforts. Four of the largest U.S. food companies also condemned “dangerous, discriminatory legislation that serves as an attack on LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly transgender and nonbinary people,” and the Walton Family Foundation issued a statement expressing “alarm” at the trend of anti-transgender legislation that recently became law in Arkansas.

According to the latest data this year from PRRI, support for LGBTQ+ rights is on the rise in Florida and nationwide: 80% of Florida residents support nondiscrimination protections, and 66% of Florida residents oppose refusal of service on religious grounds. About eight in ten Americans (80%) favor laws that would protect LGBTQ+ people against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing. This reflects a dramatic increase in the proportion of Americans who support nondiscrimination protections since 2015, when it was 71%.

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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