by HRC Staff •
Florida is enacting a record six expressly anti-LGBTQ+ laws this year, more than the last seven years combined
Tallahassee, Florida – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, condemns Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for signing a slate of anti-LGBTQ+ bills designed to scale back the freedoms of LGBTQ+ people and other vulnerable communities.
Florida is enacting a record six expressly anti-LGBTQ+ bills into law this year, more than the last seven years combined.
Today, Gov. DeSantis signed HB 1069, which silences educators by prohibiting any instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity from Pre-K through 8th grade, SB 254, an extreme gender affirming care ban, and HB 1521, an anti-trans bathroom bill.
Gov. DeSantis has also signed SB 266, which doubles down on his attacks on academic freedom, and SB 1580, a “License to Discriminate in Healthcare” bill that will allow healthcare providers and insurers to deny a patient care on the basis of religious, moral, or ethical beliefs.
A sixth bill, SB 170, which would discourage cities from passing non-discrimination ordinances by raising the barriers to proposing ordinances and making it easier to challenge ordinances in court, is still to be signed by DeSantis.
Don't Say LGBTQ+ Expansion Bill (HB 1069): In an intentional effort to erase transgender and non-binary people from the curriculum, HB 1069 bans instruction of sexual orientation and gender identity from Pre-K through Grade 8, creates an anti-LGBTQ+ definition of sex based on reproductive function, and would force school staff and students to deadname and misgender one another. In April, Florida’s Board of Education also voted to expand Gov. DeSantis’s shameful “Don’t Say LGBTQ+” bill from 2022 to all grades.
Extreme Gender Affirming Care Ban (SB 254): Even among the crowded field of extreme and damaging bans on best practice, age-appropriate health care, this bill stands out as particularly mean-spirited. SB 254 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. By singing this bill, DeSantis is disrespecting the United States Constitution as well as the rule of law, not to mention transgender Floridians, their families, and their medical care providers.
Anti-Trans Bathroom Bill (HB 1521): HB 1521 criminalizes transgender people for using the restroom that matches their gender identity. The bill prohibits gender-inclusive restrooms and changing facilities in schools, public shelters, healthcare facilities, and jails.
MAGA Takeover of Higher Ed Bill (SB 266): SB 266 doubles down on Gov. DeSantis’s attacks on academic freedom. The bill would allow the state Board of Governors to give direction to universities on removing majors and minors in subjects like critical race theory and gender studies and would prohibit spending on programs or activities that support such curricula.
License to Discriminate in Healthcare (SB 1580): This bill will allow healthcare providers and insurers to deny a patient care on the basis of religious, moral, or ethical beliefs. It creates a license to discriminate by allowing healthcare employers to discriminate in hiring, and it bars medical Boards from disciplining doctors for spreading misinformation.
In response, HRC President Kelley Robinson has released the following statement:
“Gov. Ron DeSantis and extremist legislators in Florida are some of the most anti-LGBTQ+ politicians in America. DeSantis has made clear that demonizing LGBTQ+ people will be the center of his legislative agenda and presidential run. As a result, the rights of millions of Floridians are being rolled back by politicians who are attacking the LGBTQ+ community at a breakneck pace to pander to the most extreme fringes of their base.
From doctors’ offices to classrooms, they show no shame in assaulting the freedoms of those different from them. They are trying to whitewash history and use the power of the government to punish, erase, or attack anyone they disagree with, including Black and LGBTQ+ communities. They are denying transgender children and adults access to life-saving, best-practice medical care, contradicting guidelines recommended by every major medical association – representing over 1.3 million doctors in the United States.
The Human Rights Campaign will continue to fight to ensure all LGBTQ+ youth can access the healthcare they need, feel safe in school, and have access to an education that allows them to see themselves in their school’s curriculum and society. The entire country should be alarmed by Gov. DeSantis’s form of hateful politics. He is an existential threat to every LGBTQ+ person in Florida and beyond.”
So far in 2023, HRC is opposing more than 520 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been introduced in statehouses across the country. More than 220 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 125 gender-affirming care bans — bills that would prevent transgender youth from being able to access age-appropriate, medically-necessary, best-practice health care; this year, 14 have already become law in Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, South Dakota, Utah, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Georgia, Kentucky, West Virginia, North Dakota, Montana, and Oklahoma;
More than 30 anti-transgender bathroom bills filed;
More than 100 anti-LGBTQ+ curriculum censorship bills, and;
45 anti-LGBTQ+ drag performance ban bills.
Americans believe the amount of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is excessive, agreeing it is “political theater.” Likely voters across all political parties look at GOP efforts to flood state legislatures with anti-LGBTQ+ legislation as political theater. Recent polling indicates that 64% of all likely voters, including 72% of Democrats, 65% of Independents, and 55% of Republicans think that there is “too much legislation” aimed at “limiting the rights of transgender and gay people in America” (Data For Progress survey of 1,220 likely voters, 3/24-26, 2023).
By comparison, last year in 2022 politicians in statehouses across the country introduced 315 anti-LGBTQ+ bills, 29 of which were enacted into law. These efforts — the result of a coordinated push led by national anti-LGBTQ+ groups, which deployed vintage discriminatory tropes seeking to slander, malign, and stigmatize LGBTQ+ people — only yielded a less than 10% success rate, as more than 90% of anti-LGBTQ+ bills were defeated. The majority of the discriminatory bills – 149 bills – targeted the transgender and non-binary community, with the majority targeting children. By the end of the 2022 state legislative season, a record 17 bills attacking transgender and non-binary children were enacted 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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