President Joe Biden welcomed over 1,000 LGBTQ+ advocates and allies to the White House June 10, the largest Pride celebration ever hosted on its grounds. Dr. Jill Biden addressed attendees first, acknowledging that “this year’s Pride is caught between the push and pull of progress.”
“Outside the gates of this house are those who want to drag our country backwards,” the First Lady noted. She was referencing more than 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills which were introduced across the nation this year, 78 of which became law.
That includes a record amount in Florida, where four bills were signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis May 17. They included House Bill 1069, the “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” expansion; Senate Bill 254, the gender-affirming care ban; House Bill 1521, prohibiting trans Floridians from using certain bathrooms that align with their gender identity and House Bill 1423, restricting youth participation at certain “adult live performances.”
Equality Florida, the state’s largest LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, deemed the laws the governor’s “slate of hate.” The president himself echoed that sentiment from the White House lawn, citing “hateful” legislation in Florida while calling on every American to stand up against anti-LGBTQ+ measures like it.
“When families across the country face excruciating decisions to relocate to a different state to protect their child from dangerous anti-LGBTQ laws, we have to act,” the president said. “We have to act as a nation.”
Equality Florida agrees. Press Secretary Brandon Wolf says that in addition to Florida’s “slate of hate,” new laws targeting Black and brown Floridians, gun safety regulations, immigrants, inclusive education, reproductive rights and more have made it “clear that freedom is under siege in our state.”
That’s why Watermark spoke with Wolf and local health care providers to help readers better understand the impacts of Florida’s new anti-LGBTQ+ laws. Learn more about them and how organizations in Central Florida and Tampa Bay are responding here.
Introduced As: “Education”
Also Known As: “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” Expansion
Effective Date: July 1
Official synopsis: “Defines ‘sex’ for Florida Early Learning-20 Education Code; provides requirements relating to titles & pronouns; revises provisions relating to instruction & materials for specified instruction relating to reproductive health; provides additional requirements for instruction regarding human sexuality; provides district school boards are responsible for materials used in classroom libraries; revises provisions relating to objections of certain materials & process related to such objections; revises school principal, school district & district school board duties & responsibilities relating to certain materials & processes.”
What it does: This law expands 2022’s “Parental Rights in Education,” which limited the classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity through 3rd grade, to the 8th grade. Wolf says it “has already caused sweeping damage across our state,” resulting in book bans, LGBTQ+ censorship and more. HB 1069 “also strips parents of the right to ensure their child’s pronouns are respected in the classroom,” Wolf adds. Its passage followed the Florida Board of Education’s expansion of “Parental Rights in Education” to 12th grade; he notes both “will do incredible damage to classrooms and students, but the BOE’s policy threatens hardworking educators themselves.”
What it doesn’t do: Wolf notes the bill “does not mandate that schools misgender children — it simply allows schools to rely on sex assigned at birth to determine how a child will be addressed.” Students may also continue to form LGBTQ+ clubs like Gender-Sexuality Alliances and converse with LGBTQ+-affirming staff. “Schools must continue to provide safe, supportive environments for all students,” he says.
Introduced As: “Treatments for Sex Reassignment”
Also Known As: “Gender-Affirming Care Ban”
Effective Date: May 17
Official Synopsis: “Granting courts of this state temporary emergency jurisdiction over a child present in this state if the child has been subjected to or is threatened with being subjected to sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures; providing that, for purposes of warrants to take physical custody of a child in certain child custody enforcement proceedings, serious physical harm to the child includes, but is not limited to, being subjected to sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures; prohibiting certain public entities from expending state funds for the provision of sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures; prohibiting sex-reassignment prescriptions and procedures for patients younger than 18 years of age; requiring the department to immediately suspend the license of a health care practitioner who is arrested for committing or attempting, soliciting, or conspiring to commit specified violations related to sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures for a patient younger than 18 years of age, etc.”
What it does: SB 254 bans government entities from offering gender-affirming health care insurance, restricts a patient’s ability to access TeleHealth for care and denies their ability to receive it from nurse practitioners. It also allows courts to exercise jurisdiction in some situations to modify existing custody agreements when a parent may seek access to care for their minor in another state.
Wolf says it “is an insidious violation of the medical freedom of transgender Floridians” that has impacted transgender adults in addition to children. It is estimated that over 80% of trans adults in Florida have utilized nurse practitioners for their care, resulting in “a catastrophic disruption to care that should be raising national alarms.”
What it doesn’t do: The law does not allow Florida to remove trans youth from affirming homes to place them in care of the state. It specifically deals with child custody disputes related to the dissolution of a marriage and “does not give the DeSantis administration unilateral power to come and take people’s transgender children,” Wolf says.
Introduced As: “Facility Requirements Based on Sex”
Also Known As: “Anti-Trans Bathroom Bill”
Effective Date: July 1
Official Synopsis: “Provides requirements for exclusive use of restrooms & changing facilities by gender; prohibits willfully entering restroom or changing facility designated for opposite sex & refusing to depart when asked to do so; provides requirements for exclusive use of domestic violence centers by gender; provides requirements for correctional institutions; requires entities that receive state licenses to submit compliance documentation; authorizes AG to bring enforcement actions provides exception for individuals born with certain genetically or biochemically verifiable disorder of sex development.”
What it does: The law bans trans Floridians from using shared restrooms that align with their gender identity in publicly owned or leased buildings like airports, convention centers, government facilities, some stadiums, schools and universities. “It also empowers extremists to harass others in bathrooms, giving them license to demand that someone be removed from a bathroom if they suspect they don’t belong,” Wolf says. “Already, we’ve seen viral videos of women — both cisgender and transgender — being confronted in restrooms or asked to leave. This law will escalate those instances of harassment and criminalize people who are simply using the restroom.”
What it doesn’t do: HB 1521 does not apply to restrooms in private businesses like bars, gyms or restaurants.
Introduced As: “Protection of Children”
Also Known As: “Anti-Drag Bill”
Effective Date: May 17
Official Synopsis: “Prohibits governmental entity from issuing permit or otherwise authorizing person to conduct performance in violation of certain provisions; authorizes Division of Hotels & Restaurants of DBPR to fine, suspend, or revoke license of any public lodging establishment or public food service establishment if establishment admits child to adult live performance; provides violation constitutes immediate serious danger to public health, safety, or welfare; authorizes division to impose specified fines for violations; specifies division may revoke or suspend license of person found to be maintaining licensed premises that admits child to adult live performance; prohibits person from knowingly admitting child to adult live performance.”
What it does: HB 1423 threatens fines and license revocation against LGBTQ+-friendly businesses, as well as possible jail time for individuals who admit minors into certain “adult live performances.” DeSantis has confirmed it is intended to target performances like drag shows. “Already, we’ve seen local governments in Florida pulling Pride festival permits and businesses canceling drag performances as a result of the law and the DeSantis regime’s authoritarian investigations of small businesses,” Wolf notes.
What it doesn’t do: Ban drag or Pride celebrations. “The governor’s goal is for our community to censor our expression in accordance with the most extreme reading of the law,” Wolf says. “We cannot give him that pleasure. We must stand in support of drag performers and the small businesses that host them. The show must go on. Pride must continue. We must raise our flags higher than ever. That is what it looks like to resist the right-wing agenda.”
OTHER ANTI-LGBTQ+ LAWS
Equality Florida is continuing to monitor Florida’s “slate of hate” as well as other laws impacting LGBTQ+ Floridians. Wolf points toward the state’s six-week abortion ban and other laws targeting health care and education.
“This legislative session was the most anti-LGBTQ in Florida’s history, with a stunning raft of anti-freedom policies racing over the finish line,” he says. “The ‘License to Discriminate in Healthcare’ law gives medical providers and insurers broad license to refuse services that they have a ‘moral’ or ‘conscience-based’ objection to while the ‘MAGA Higher Education Takeover’ law defunds diversity, equity, and inclusion programs at Florida’s colleges and universities and bans certain majors.” The organization invites LGBTQ+ and ally Floridians to join them on the frontlines to fight back against these and other measures.
“Be relentless and tireless in speaking out,” Wolf says. “And be more visible than ever.”