Human Rights Campaign Blasts Florida Senate’s Passage of Anti-Transgender Bathroom Bill and Expansion of ‘Don't Say LGBTQ+’ Bill

by Laurel Powell

Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, condemns the Florida Senate for passing HB 1521, a bill that criminalizes transgender people for using the restroom that matches their gender identity, and SB 1320, which expands Florida's Don't Say LGBTQ+ law championed by Gov. DeSantis last year.

HB 1521 prohibits gender-inclusive restrooms and changing facilities in schools, public shelters, healthcare facilities, and jails.

SB 1320 silences educators by prohibiting any instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity from Pre-K through 8th grade. In an intentional effort to erase transgender and non-binary people from the curriculum, the bill also creates an anti-LGBTQ+ definition of sex based on reproductive function and would force school staff and students to deadname and misgender one another. The bill now heads to the House for consideration.

“Unsurprisingly, the Florida Senate has moved to revisit an old, failed anti-equality fight with a so-called ‘Bathroom Bill’ as part of their relentless assault against LGBTQ+ and specifically transgender people. Denying transgender people the ability to access the bathroom consistent with their gender identity is part of a pernicious, degrading, and systematic attempt to dehumanize one of our most marginalized communities. Transgender children especially are faced with heightened levels of anxiety, depression, and dysphoria when they are denied the chance to live consistent with their identity. Florida legislators should focus on real issues impacting Floridians instead of where transgender people go to the bathroom.”

Sarah Warbelow, HRC Legal Director

“Once again, instead of working to ensure that all students feel safe at school, extremist lawmakers are choosing to push dangerous bills that create hostile classrooms for LGBTQ+ students and educators. To be clear: there is nothing inappropriate about being LGBTQ+ or in acknowledging LGBTQ+ issues and people. Every school should feel empowered to provide the affirming and inclusive spaces that their employees and students deserve. The Human Rights Campaign strongly condemns this discriminatory bill and will continue fighting for Floridians who deserve to exist freely and proudly.”

Courtnay Avant, HRC Legislative Counsel

Since the reviled original “bathroom bill” HB2 was passed, and subsequently partially-repealed, in North Carolina, only three states — Tennessee, Alabama, and Oklahoma — have passed legislation mandating anti-transgender discrimination in bathrooms.

While “bathroom bills'' were very popular in 2016, the international condemnation heaped upon HB2 dissuaded many other states — including Texas — from advancing their own legislation. The Associated Press projected that HB2 passed in 2016 could have cost North Carolina $3.76 billion over 10 years from loss of business opportunities and impact the lives of countless students. Furthermore, transgender youth are denied their right to a public education when they’re prevented from accessing restroom facilities consistent with their gender identity, and “bathroom bills” are a violation of both Title IX and the U.S. Constitution. HRC and Hart Research Group conducted a 10-swing-state poll in 2020 that found at least 60% of conservative voters across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should be able to live freely and openly.

Last month, the President of HRC Kelley Robinson held a roundtable discussion with Equality Florida – the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida's LGBTQ+ community – teachers, parents, and students to slam Gov. DeSantis and Florida legislators for advancing a slate of hateful anti-LGBTQ+ bills and proposals. HRC also deployed mobile billboards at the State Capitol, the Governor’s mansion, the Pride Festival in Tallahassee, and South Beach and took out a full page ad in the Miami Herald slamming DeSantis for his attacks on the LGBTQ+ community.

Acting at the behest of the administration of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the Florida Board of Medicine and the Board of Osteopathic Medicine also adopted a politically motivated and discriminatory rule 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. HRC is one of several organizations representing Florida families challenging the state’s ban on medically necessary healthcare for their transgender children and filed a motion last month asking the court to halt the ban while their case proceeds. Parents told the federal district court in their motion for a preliminary injunction that the ban is causing their children significant harm through canceled doctors appointments and denials of treatment.

So far in 2023, HRC is opposing more than 540 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 bills that would prevent transgender youth from being able to access age-appropriate, medically-necessary, best-practice health care; this year, 13 have already become law in Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, South Dakota, Utah, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Georgia, Kentucky, West Virginia and North Dakota.
  • 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.

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%.

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