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DeSantis Enacts Controversial Measures: Transgender Bathroom Bill, Gender-Affirming Care Ban, and Expanded ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Law

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed four bills on Wednesday, triggering significant changes for LGBTQ individuals in the state. These measures, criticized by advocacy groups as a “slate of hate,” will have far-reaching effects on the daily lives of the community.

DeSantis granted final approval to legislation that prohibits gender-affirming medical treatments for transgender minors. Additionally, the governor expanded a contentious state education law, which imposes limitations on teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity in classrooms. Furthermore, he imposed additional constraints on drag performances.

Speaking at the signing ceremony in Tampa, DeSantis emphasized the state’s commitment to being a haven of rationality and a bastion of normalcy. A sign displaying the message “Let Kids Be Kids” adorned the podium from which he spoke.

Impact on LGBTQ Community in Florida

Florida’s Senate Bill 254, known as the gender-affirming health care ban, has been enacted, imposing restrictions on transgender minors seeking puberty blockers, hormone replacement therapy, and surgeries. Furthermore, transgender adults in Florida will face increased regulatory obstacles to accessing gender-affirming healthcare services, effective immediately.

Under this law, Florida courts will have temporary jurisdiction over cases involving children who have undergone or are at risk of undergoing sex-reassignment procedures. Additionally, the legislation facilitates legal action against health care providers by recipients of gender-affirming health care.

DeSantis’s Stance and Medical Community’s Response

In front of a crowd of supporters and conservative legislators, Governor DeSantis asserted that gender-affirming medical care lacks scientific basis and reliable evidence, suggesting it is supported by only a small fraction of ideologically-driven individuals within the medical community.

However, prominent medical organizations, including the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics, hold a different perspective. They maintain that gender-affirming care is supported by substantial evidence and is deemed medically necessary.

In a statement made in 2021, Dr. Michael Suk, a board member of the AMA, criticized government interference in medical practice and denounced the criminalization of healthcare decision-making. He emphasized that gender-affirming care is evidence-based and essential in improving the physical and mental well-being of transgender and gender-diverse individuals.

Read also: These Companies All Take an Anti-LGBTQ Stance – Some May Surprise You!

Credit: DepositPhotos

Strict Regulations on Gender-Affirming Healthcare

Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, Florida has implemented stringent regulations surrounding gender-affirming health care for both transgender youths and adults. The state has adopted policies that restrict minors from accessing such care and prohibit using Medicaid to cover expenses related to gender-affirming medical procedures.

Florida is among the 18 states that have enacted laws or policies preventing healthcare providers from offering gender-affirming healthcare to minors.

Read also: Struggling Bud Light Considers Its Way Forward After Disastrous ‘Woke’ Marketing Campaign

Expanding ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Law

Furthermore, Governor DeSantis signed House Bill 1069, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, due to its disproportional impact on LGBTQ students and families. This legislation expands existing state laws and prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity from pre-K through eighth grade.

Starting from July 1, a newly passed law will impose additional restrictions on lessons about “human sexuality” throughout high schools in Florida. It also mandates that all students of school age be educated about abstaining from sexual activity outside of marriage.

Under this law, Florida teachers are encouraged to emphasize the advantages of monogamous heterosexual marriage in reproductive health courses.

Furthermore, the legislation declares that a person’s sex is an unchangeable biological characteristic, and it deems it incorrect to assign pronouns to individuals that do not correspond with their biological sex. Public schools from kindergarten to eighth grade are prohibited from implementing policies that require accurate gendering of transgender individuals by staff and students.

Governor DeSantis emphasized that Florida will not engage in what he referred to as the “pronoun Olympics,” stating that such practices will not be permitted in the state.

Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr., who previously supported the initial “Don’t Say Gay” bill as a state senator, released a statement affirming the significance of the new law in maintaining the focus of Florida schools on education rather than indoctrination.

Diaz emphasized that the recent actions serve as a clear message that educators in Florida are expected to adhere to teaching the established standards without inserting personal opinions or worldviews into the classroom. He further expressed the department’s commitment to prioritizing the instruction of core subjects rather than engaging in what he referred to as “woke gender ideology” or inappropriate topics.

In April, the Florida Education Department approved a proposal to expand the limitations imposed by the original law, extending restrictions on discussions related to sexual orientation and gender identity to high school classrooms. However, lessons on these topics are allowed when explicitly required by state academic standards or as part of a reproductive health course.

Read also: Biden Administration Proposes New Rules on Transgender Athletes

Prohibiting Attendance of Drag Shows

Another bill signed into law by Governor DeSantis on Wednesday is House Bill 1438, which prohibits minors from attending “adult live performances,” including drag shows. This legislation is effective immediately.

Florida becomes the second state, following Tennessee, to enact a law specifically targeting drag performances. However, a federal judge recently halted the implementation of the Tennessee law, citing concerns that it was likely to be “vague and overly broad” in its restriction of free speech.

Credit: DepositPhotos

Restrictions on Restroom and Locker Room Use

Governor DeSantis also approved House Bill 1521, which will take effect on July 1 and prohibit transgender individuals from using public restrooms or locker rooms that align with their gender identity.

Read also: Republicans Accused Of ‘Remaking’ America As States Move To Ban Trans Athletes From Competing Against Women

Criticism and Allegations against Governor DeSantis

LGBTQ advocacy groups strongly criticized DeSantis’s endorsement of these bills, alleging that they are part of his strategy to position himself favorably for the upcoming GOP presidential nomination.

These organizations expressed concern over the discriminatory impact of the legislation and its infringement on the rights and well-being of transgender individuals.

Read also: Publix Refuses to Fulfill the Request of Transgender Customer

Potential Presidential Bid and LGBTQ Advocacy Group Response

While DeSantis has not formally declared his candidacy for the presidency, there is widespread anticipation that he will do so. In a recent news conference, he mentioned that he will make a decision about launching a 2024 presidential bid “relatively soon.”

Joe Saunders, the senior political director of Equality Florida, criticized DeSantis, stating that he has signed the most extensive collection of anti-LGBTQ bills during a single legislative session in the state’s history. This remark highlights the concerns of LGBTQ advocacy groups regarding the impact of these newly enacted laws on the community.

Saunders further criticized DeSantis, asserting that he views freedom not as a cherished principle to be protected but rather as a campaign slogan in his pursuit of the presidency. He accused DeSantis of jeopardizing both freedom and Florida’s reputation in his zealous attempt to secure the GOP nomination.

According to Saunders, the nation should be vigilant and cautious as DeSantis seeks to propagate this blueprint of authoritarianism beyond Florida’s borders.

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