Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a sweeping range of anti-LGBTQ+ laws targeting drag shows, which bathrooms people use, gender-affirming care and preferred pronouns.
The bills were signed at the evangelical Cambridge Christian School in Tampa on 17 May, the same day as International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.
The legislation will see bathrooms and changing rooms separated “based on biological sex”, meaning people will not be able to use the facilities that align with their gender identity.
Trans children will not be able to access gender-affirming treatments such as puberty blockers or hormone therapy, with new restrictions placed on adults seeking trans medical care who will now have to obtain written consent on a form adopted by two oversight boards with members appointed by DeSantis.
In addition to this, a law titled ‘Protecting Children’s Innocence’ gives the state power to revoke licences from a business if they allow children into what is broadly referred to as “adult live performances” – such as drag shows.
Another bill prevents school employees from sharing their preferred pronouns with students, or asking them what theirs are.
“We never did this through all of human history until like two weeks ago,” DeSantis said of the legislation. “They’re having third graders declare pronouns? We’re not doing the pronoun Olympics in Florida.”
The five laws have been dubbed the ‘Let Kids Be Kids’ package and were described by DeSantis as a way to make Florida a “refuge of sanity and a citadel of normalcy”.
“Largest slate of anti-LGBTQ bills in Florida history”
Lambda Legal, a national organisation advocating for the LGBTQ+ community, told The Independent that the bills show “callous disregard for LGBTQ+ Floridians and, in particular, trans youth by facilitating homophobia and transphobia and exposing this most vulnerable population to discrimination, harassment, and abuse.”
Carlos Guillermo Smith, a former Democratic Florida state representative, described the newly-signed bills as the “largest slate of anti-LGBTQ bills in Florida history”, adding that they are a “quest for political power” that revoke freedoms and ruin people’s lives in the process.
Ron DeSantis just signed the largest slate of anti-LGBTQ bills in Florida history revoking our freedoms and ruining people's lives in his quest for political power.
We will NOT be erased.
We will RESIST.
We will FIGHT BACK.
We will proudly RAISE OUR FLAGS.
We will WIN. 🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️
— Carlos Guillermo Smith (@CarlosGSmith) May 17, 2023
“We will NOT be erased,” he added.
Alex Petrovnia, Executive Director of The Trans Formations Project, an organisation that tracks anti-trans bills in the United States, said: “This is the greatest expansion of criminal penalties in the daily lives of trans people in a single day that I’ve seen throughout the past two years of tracking this kind of legislation. It will make criminals of thousands of innocent people, including not just trans people, but also all who love and support them.”
DeSantis is expected to announce a presidential bid imminently, making a face off between him and Donald Trump for next year’s Republican nomination all the more likely.
Whoever wins will go against against current President Joe Biden, a Democrat, in November 2024.