The Anti-LGBT Tide Is Turning in Florida

Published in: May-June 2024 issue.


FLORIDA’S LEGISLATURE adjourned its session in March with 21 out of 22 anti-LGBT bills effectively killed, handing Governor Ron DeSantis a humiliating defeat and leading the Human Rights Campaign to conclude that “the tide has turned” on such legislation in Florida.

            Among the bills that failed was H599, which would have expanded “Don’t Say Gay” policies to the workplace, barring government employees and government contractors from sharing pronouns and prohibiting all nonprofits from requiring education and training on LGBT issues. Another bill that died was H1639, which would have mandated transgender individuals to have driver’s license sex markers matching their sex assigned at birth. It also aimed to penalize insurance providers for offering gender-affirming care coverage.

            Other bills that died on the vine include:

  A ban on Pride flags in schools and government buildings;

  A “bill of rights” allowing student organizations to exclude transgender people;

  A bill that would end legal recognition of trans people;

  A bill that would exempt rejection of transgender youth from child abuse provisions; and

  A bill that would allow calling someone racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic to be treated as defamation.

            In a press release from the Human Rights Campaign, Geoff Wetrosky stated: “We are shifting the momentum. People across the state showed up by the thousands to speak out and push back against anti-lgbtq+ bills; and they are to thank for pushing back the tide of hateful and discriminatory policy.”

            Not every bill was defeated in Florida, which still has some of the harshest anti-transgender laws in the nation. The one bill that did pass, H1291, prohibits educating teachers on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) topics and bars “teaching identity politics.” Transgender drivers still face the potential revocation of their driver’s licenses, and many transgender adults have lost access to gender-affirming care. Florida also enforces a restroom ban that could incarcerate transgender individuals for up to a year.

            However, this is the first time in three years that bills targeting LGBT people, and trans people in particular, seem to be losing steam. Stated Nadine Smith of Equality Florida in a press release: “Extremist groups are collapsing amidst multiple scandals. Parents are mobilizing on behalf of their kids and to stop the dismantling of public education. We will build on this momentum and redouble our commitment to the fight. Together, we can put power back in the hands of the people.”

Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her) who writes a widely read blog, Erin in the Morning, from which this piece has been excerpted.  


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