President of the Human Rights Campaign Kelley Robinson, Senior Political Director of Equality Florida Joe Saunders, Teachers, Parents, and Students Joined Together in Tallahassee to Speak Out Against Slate of Hateful Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation and Proposals in Florida
A video of today’s event can be found here.
Tallahassee, Florida – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for LGBTQ+ people, and Equality Florida, the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida's LGBTQ+ community, teachers, parents, and students slammed Florida’s Board of Education for voting to expand Gov. Ron DeSantis’s shameful “Don’t Say LGBTQ+” bill to all grades.
At a roundtable event in Tallahassee, they also spoke out against the Florida legislature’s unprecedented efforts to advance a slate of hateful anti-LGBTQ+ bills and proposals attacking the LGBTQ+ community. The rights of millions of Floridians are being rolled back by Gov. DeSantis and his allies who – to pander to the most extreme fringes of their base – have proposed more government censorship of classrooms, more government intrusion into health care and custody agreements, and more government banning of books and entertainment.
The House is expected to vote on two anti-LGBTQ+ bills today: SB 254 and HB 1521. SB 254 is an extreme, unprecedented attack on transgender people, their health care, and the families and health care providers who care for them. The bill bans age-appropriate, best practice, gender-affirming care supported by every credible medical organization representing over 1.3 million doctors in the United States, and strips parental rights from parents who support their transgender children. HB 1521 criminalizes transgender people for using the restroom that matches their gender identity and prohibits gender-inclusive restrooms and changing facilities in schools, private businesses, public shelters, healthcare facilities, and jails.
Kelley Robinson, President of the Human Rights Campaign, released the following statement:
“There's nothing wrong with talking about LGBTQ+ people, history, and culture in our classrooms. There’s nothing wrong with children receiving life-saving gender affirming care. Our community poses no threat. The real threat to Floridians is Gov. Ron DeSantis and extremist legislators who are some of the most anti-LGBTQ+ politicians in America. DeSantis and his allies show no shame in their government overreach and unrelenting desire to attack the freedoms of those different from them. The Human Rights Campaign strongly condemns this form of dangerous, extremist politics. We will never stop fighting for LGBTQ+ Floridians, particularly transgender and non-binary children. They deserve better from their elected leaders, and they deserve to live full lives without fear.”
Joe Saunders, Equality Florida Senior Political Director, released the following statement:
“Let’s put it plainly: this is part of the Governor’s assault on freedom. Free states do not ban books. Free states do not censor entire communities out of the classroom. Free states do not wage war on LGBTQ+ people to score cheap political points for a man desperate to be President. This policy will escalate the government censorship that is sweeping our state, exacerbate our educator exodus, drive hardworking families from Florida, and further stigmatize and isolate a population of young people who need our support now more than ever. Shame on the DeSantis Administration for putting a target on the backs of LGBTQ+ Floridians.”
The Board of Education’s rule change, which does not require legislative approval, will block teachers from providing safe, inclusive classrooms, further stigmatizing LGBTQ+ people and isolating LGBTQ+ kids. It will 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. Today’s vote by the Board of Education was put forth by the state Education Department, both of which are controlled by appointees of the governor.
LAWMAKERS ARE ADVANCING A SLATE OF HATE
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and extremist members of the Florida legislature have waged an unprecedented attack on the LGBTQ+ community. They are advancing a slate of extreme anti-LGBTQ+ bills, including:
Anti-Trans Bathroom Bill (HB 1521/ SB 1674): This bill criminalizes transgender people for using the restroom that matches their gender identity. It prohibits gender-inclusive restrooms and changing facilities in schools, private businesses, public shelters, healthcare facilities, and jails.
Gender Affirming Care Ban (SB 254/HB 1421): The 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. The bill now heads to Gov. Ron DeSantis’s desk for signature. 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 Medicare 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 Medicare, 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.
The License to Discriminate in Healthcare Bill (HB 1403/SB 1580): The bill allows 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.
“Don’t Say LGBTQ” Expansion Bill (HB 1069/SB 1320): The bill 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 a binary definition of sex based on reproductive function and would force school staff and students to deadname and misgender one another. The bill would also mandate the immediate removal of school books targeted for objection before they’re even reviewed and would revoke local school districts’ ability to craft comprehensive sex education, handing control of curriculum to the State Department of Education and further politicizing our classrooms.
The MAGA University Bill (HB 999/SB 266): 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.
LGBTQ+ ADVOCATES ARE ORGANIZING AND SPEAKING OUT
Equality Florida has organized hundreds of advocates across the state to show up in committee hearings, in and outside the Capitol, and throughout their communities to make their voices heard. Last week, Equality Florida took the extraordinary step of issuing a travel advisory, warning of the risks posed to the health, safety, and freedom of those considering short or long term travel, or relocation to the state. The move was in response to a wave of safety inquiries Equality Florida has received following the passage of laws that are hostile to the LGBTQ+ community, restrict access to reproductive health care, repeal gun safety laws, foment racial prejudice, and attack public education by banning books and censoring curriculum
HRC has 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
Students from Walkout2Learn are organizing a major walkout on Friday, April 21. Thousands of students, parents, teachers, and advocates for educational freedom in Florida are walking out and rallying against DeSantis' education policies targeting diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs, African American history, gender studies majors and books.
ANTI-LGBTQ+ LEGISLATION IS UNPOPULAR
According to the Public Opinion Research Lab (PORL) at the University of North Florida, 49% of Floridians oppose “Don’t Say LGBTQ+” legislation while only 40% support it
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
More than 300 major U.S. corporations have 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.
DISCRIMINATORY LEGISLATION IS HARMING THE WELL-BEING OF LGBTQ+ STUDENTS AND PARENTS
A recent survey of more than 100 LGBTQ+ parents in Florida found more than half are thinking about leaving the state because of the “Don’t Say LGBTQ+” law.
LGBTQ+ Floridians are more than twice as likely to experience depression or anxiety compared to non-LGBT Floridians.
Findings from the GLSEN 2021 National School Climate Survey demonstrate that Florida schools were already not safe for most LGBTQ+ secondary school students. Most LGBTQ+ students in Florida experienced anti-LGBTQ+ victimization at school. Only 11% of LGBTQ+ students in Florida were taught any positive representations of LGBTQ+ people, history, or events.
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.
Equality Florida is the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community.
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