Florida Legislature Passes Extreme Anti-Trans Bathroom Bill and Gender-Affirming Care Ban in an Egregious Assault on Parental Rights

by Aryn Fields

HRC and Equality Florida hosted a roundtable discussion with teachers, parents, and students today to slam Florida legislature’s slate of hateful anti-LGBTQ+ bills

Today, the Human Rights Campaign condemns the Florida House for advancing HB 1521, an anti-trans bathroom bill, and SB 254, an extreme, unprecedented attack on transgender people, their health care, and the families and health care providers who care for them. SB 254 bill is a gender-affirming care ban that would also give Florida the unprecedented ability to strip parental rights from parents who support their transgender children. SB 254 bill now heads back to the Senate.

This bill would penalize providers by inflicting criminal penalties (including felony penalties) on providers who give gender-affirming care; it would take licenses away from those providers; and it would prohibit Medicaid from covering gender-affirming care for transgender youth or adults. It would also forbid public funds, including those of a public university, public hospital, city, or county, and Medicaid, from being used to provide benefits that include gender-affirming care – for transgender people of all ages. And – uniquely – it allows the state to use gender-affirming care or the “risk” of such care for a child as a reason to give Florida family courts exceptional jurisdiction to set aside another state’s custody determination.

HB 1521 prohibits gender-inclusive restrooms and changing facilities in schools, private businesses, public shelters, healthcare facilities, and jails. The bill now heads to the Senate.

Florida’s Board of Education also voted to expand Gov. DeSantis’s shameful “Don’t Say LGBTQ+” bill to all grades this afternoon

In response, Cathryn Oakley, HRC’s State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel released the following statement:

“SB 254 is extraordinarily desperate and extreme in a year full of extreme, discriminatory legislation. These politicians have no place inserting themselves in conversations between doctors, parents, and transgender youth about gender affirming care. Every credible medical organization – representing over 1.3 million doctors in the United States – calls for age-appropriate gender-affirming care for transgender and non-binary people. These politicians do not care that they are harming vulnerable children – and they certainly do not care about parental rights.

“From doctors offices to bathrooms, SB 254 and HB 1521 are simply cruel attempts to stigmatize, marginalize and erase the LGBTQ+ community, particularly transgender youth. Shame on them. The Human Rights Campaign strongly condemns these bills and will continue to fight for LGBTQ+ youth and their families.”

At an event earlier today, HRC and Equality Florida, the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida's LGBTQ+ community, teachers, parents, and students slammed Gov. DeSantis and Florida legislators for advancing a slate of hateful anti-LGBTQ+ bills and proposals. HRC has also launched an ad campaign to call attention to Gov. Ron DeSantis and extreme legislators' threat to LGBTQ+ Floridians. HRC deployed mobile billboards at the State Capitol, the Governor’s mansion, the Pride Festival in Tallahassee, and South Beach over the weekend and took out a full page ad in the Miami Herald today slamming DeSantis for his attacks on the LGBTQ+ community.

The House is also considering a companion gender-affirming care ban, HB 1421. The bill is another extraordinary example of discrimination, an extreme outlier even in a field of extreme legislation. This bill would, among other things: ban best practice, age-appropriate care for transgender youth; impose criminal, civil, and professional consequences on providers who attempt to deliver such care; make it effectively impossible for a person to access health insurance that covers gender-affirming care by prohibiting public and private entities from offering such coverage; grant emergency jurisdiction to Florida family courts to reverse custody determinations from other states that give legal rights to parents who affirm transgender youth; and prevent transgender people from correcting their birth certificates.

Acting at the behest of the administration of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the Florida Board of Medicine and the Board of Osteopathic Medicine also advanced a politically motivated and discriminatory proposed rule change that denies age-appropriate gender-affirming care to Florida's transgender youth. The rule (64B8-9.019) was filed with the Florida Department of State on February 24, 2023 and became effective on March 16, 2023. Four Florida families filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine’s new rules banning the medically necessary healthcare their transgender children need.

So far in 2023, HRC is opposing more than 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been introduced in statehouses across the country. More than 210 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 120 bills that would prevent transgender youth from being able to access age-appropriate, medically-necessary, best-practice health care; this year, eleven have already become law in Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, South Dakota, Utah, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Georgia, Kentucky, and West Virginia.
  • More than 30 bathroom ban bills filed,
  • More than 100 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.

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.

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