The Phoenix Flyer

LGBTQ+ groups raise alarm at political situation in GOP’s Florida; adds updated travel advisory

By: - May 23, 2023 4:22 pm

Protesters gathered in the Capitol’s Fourth Floor Rotunda on April 19, 2023, to protest passage of anti-LGBTQ legislation. Credit: Michael Moline

Florida’s LGBTQ+ community is echoing African American and Hispanic organizations in issuing an updated travel advisory for Florida, citing legislation targeting the trans community, reproductive health care, and bans on books that discuss tricky racial and gender ideas.

In a joint statement issued Tuesday, Equality Florida and the Human Rights Campaign referenced earlier warnings issued by the NAACP and the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULA, regarding Florida’s “open hostility” toward those communities.

The document updates an advisor issued earlier this year to reflect new laws limiting gender-affirming care and access to public toilets that coordinate with people’s gender identities. It cites:

  • Expansion of the restriction of discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity through the eighth grade (and throughout K-12 under new Board of Education guidelines; censorship of rainbow flags in schools and LGBTQ+ content in student publication and speeches; and a ban on respecting trans kids’ preferred pronouns.
  • Exclusion of trans-related medical procedures under Medicaid and criminalization of such care for trans youth; allowing denial of health care based on providers’ “religious, moral, or ethical” beliefs; and six-week abortion ban.
  • Bans on participation in high school and college sports based on gender identity and on drag performances that have forced cancellation of LGBTQ+ Pride events in some cities.

The document includes additional examples of laws the groups consider objectionable.

“Since the day he took office, Gov. [Ron] DeSantis has weaponized his position to weave bigotry, hate, and discrimination into public law for his own political gain. We see it as our duty to join Equality Florida — and LULAC and the NAACP — to provide guidance to our community,” HRC president Kelley Robinson said in a written statement.

“In free states, books are not banned, history remains uncensored, and health care is not criminalized,” said Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida.

“As a parent, I empathize with every family forced to leave Florida in search of accessible health care and inclusive schools for their children. But, every day, I see more and more parents stepping forward to defend their children, their neighbors, their schools, and their communities from these relentless attacks,” she added.

The advisory does not call for “a blanket recommendation against travel nor a call for boycott,” the organizations said, but rather points to “the devastating impacts” of GOP policies, including looser gun laws.

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Michael Moline
Michael Moline

Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal.