A New Wave of Anti-LGBTQ Legislation Is Up for Consideration in Florida

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The Sunshine State is poised to become even more hostile to the LGBTQ community this year.

Florida lawmakers recently introduced a handful of new bills that, if passed, could radically reshape the educational system from kindergarten through higher education. These measures put legal protections for the LGBTQ community at significant risk — and many advocates say that includes their most essential rights to personhood and dignity.  

The proposed legislation was announced right before the launch of Florida’s legislative session last week, and these bills have already received a wave of criticism from the Democratic Party, numerous education associations, LGBTQ activist organizations, and free speech groups, to name a few. 

Here’s a rundown of the controversial proposals that might soon become law in Florida — a state that’s set to become an even bigger part of the national conversation if Gov. Ron DeSantis adds his name to the list of Republicans seeking the White House in 2024, as is strongly anticipated.

A breakdown of the latest anti-LGBTQ bills in Florida

HB 1223 builds upon last year’s extremely controversial “Don’t Say Gay” law, which restricts “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.” This newly proposed law would take that initiative a step further by mandating that K-12 faculty only reference a child’s biological pronouns, rather than their preferred pronouns. 

While that proposal focuses on how teachers engage with their students, HB 1069, another proposal on the docket, focuses instead on what teachers can teach their students in the first place. Specifically, it would require that children are taught that “sex is determined by biology” — and restrict any other educational material that might dispute this assertion. 

There’s also a proposed bill that directly bans any type of gender-affirming care for children. In fact, if SB 254 passes into law, parents could lose custody rights to their children if they are found to have “[subjected] the child to the provision of sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures.”

There are a handful of other bills with similar goals, including one that would restrict diversity efforts at universities and another that would eliminate gender studies courses in higher education. And according to The Washington Post, it’s looking likely that all of these bills will pass in the Florida State House, where the GOP has a supermajority. 

Other states advancing their own anti-LGBTQ legislation

When it comes to “culture war laws,” Florida is ground zero for these efforts — but there are several other states following closely behind. According to the ACLU, 15 states that have introduced or already considered at least 10 anti-LGBTQ bills in the 2023 legislative session.

These states are: Florida, Texas, Arizona, North Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Missouri, Mississippi, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia, and South Carolina.

For example, the state of Texas has already introduced 23 bills this year which target the LGBTQ community, including bills that prohibit gender-affirming care and heavily restrict what type of sex education can be taught in schools. Nearly all of these bills are currently being “advanced” for voting, meaning that they’ve already been introduced and approved by a committee for consideration. 

On the other hand, it’s important to note that some of these states are repeatedly voting down the anti-LGBTQ bills that are being introduced for consideration. One example is Virginia, where 12 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced this year, but all 12 have already been defeated in the state senate. 

What other states are doing to protect LGBTQ rights

As certain states continue to wage war on the already fragile set of legal protections afforded to the LGBTQ community, others are working to reinforce those protections for generations to come. 

According to Freedom For All Americans, a bipartisan campaign to “secure full nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people nationwide,” there are 21 states (plus the District of Columbia) that have passed state laws to protect their residents from discrimination on the basis of sex or gender. These protections apply to housing, employment, public accommodations, and more. 

In 2020, 24/7 Wall Street created an index that ranked states according to how welcoming they are to the LGBTQ community. This index incorporated a wide range of data, from hate crime rates to the number of state-enshrined legal protections for the community to the percentage of the population that openly identifies as LGBTQ. Here are the 10 states that are most supportive of the LGBTQ community, according to this report:

10 states most supportive of the LGBTQ community:

  1. Nevada
  2. Vermont
  3. New York
  4. Oregon
  5. California
  6. Delaware
  7. New Mexico
  8. Maine
  9. Illinois
  10. Rhode Island