Central Florida leaders, activists to address recently filed anti-LGBTQ+ bill

The Pride Chamber’s press conference will be held at The Center Orlando building, located on Mills Ave., Dec. 11. (Photo by Emily Paul)

ORLANDO | Local leaders and activists in the LGBTQ+ community are holding a press conference at the LGBT+ Center Orlando Dec. 11 to address the recent anti-LGBTQ+ bill filed for the 2024 legislative session.

Freshman state Rep. Ryan Chamberlin (R-Belleview) filed Florida House Bill 599, “Gender Identity Employment Practices,” on Nov. 21. The bill takes portions of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” law and expands it into the workplace.

The legislation states that it is “the policy of the state that a person’s sex is an immutable biological trait and that it is false to ascribe to a person a pronoun that does not correspond to such person’s sex.” If passed, the new law would prohibit government employees or contractors from using a person’s pronouns that “do not correspond to his or her sex.” It would also bar employers from asking workers to state their own pronouns and prohibit workers from sharing their pronouns if they differ from their assigned sex. Additionally, Chamberlin’s bill would restrict tax-exempt nonprofits and state-funded employers from providing any training or instruction on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

In response, The Pride Chamber, Central Florida’s LGBTQ+ chamber of commerce, will host a press conference at the LGBT+ Center Orlando, located at 946 N. Mills Ave., starting at 10:45 a.m.

“Rep. Chamberlin’s bill is a direct threat to the principles of equality and human rights. We call on all individuals, regardless of identity, to join us in condemning HB 599 and legislation like it. Our community will not be erased!” said Daniel H. Sohn, The Pride Chamber’s president and CEO, in a statement.

Joining Sohn at the press conference will be Denise Merritt, The Pride Chamber’s board chair; Dr. George Wallace, The Center Orlando’s CEO; state Sen. Linda Stewart; Heather Wilkie, Zebra Youth’s executive director; state Rep. Rita Harris; Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan; state Senate candidate Carlos Guillermo Smith; and Gina Duncan, Equality Florida’s Central Florida Development Director.

In a press release, organization stated “The LGBTQ+ community and its allies will unite to condemn Chamberlin’s bill, emphasizing that our community will not be erased. This event will serve as a powerful platform for community leaders, activists, and allies to express their unwavering commitment to inclusivity, diversity, and the protection of LGBTQ+ rights.”

Currently a companion bill has not been filed in the state Senate. Florida’s 2024 legislative session begins Jan. 9.

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