Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a series of new laws imposing limitations on gender-affirming treatments for children, drag shows, restroom usage, and pronoun usage in schools. These actions reflect DeSantis’s ongoing cultural battle and align with his political aspirations, potentially gearing up for a presidential candidacy in the near future.
DeSantis emphasized the importance of upholding “sanity” and “normalcy” while stating that children should be raised in an environment that aligns with these values. However, LGBTQ+ advocates in Florida criticized the new laws, viewing them as part of a broader effort to marginalize and exclude them from societal institutions.
Interestingly, DeSantis had previously regarded attempts to legislate transgender issues as a distraction, notably expressing disinterest in engaging in “bathroom wars” during his 2018 gubernatorial campaign. However, as he has pursued a potential White House run, these issues have become central to his messaging, resonating with potential Republican primary voters.
Although DeSantis has previously signed controversial bills discreetly, he held a signing ceremony for these laws at a Christian school in Tampa that had been embroiled in a legal battle over prayer at football games.
One of the laws DeSantis signed prohibits transgender youth from accessing gender-affirming therapies, including puberty blockers and sex-reassignment surgery. The law goes so far as to consider such healthcare options, endorsed by the American Medical Association, as potential child abuse, potentially leading to the temporary removal of a child from their family.
In addition, the laws restrict the usage of preferred pronouns by teachers, professors, and students in public schools. They assert that an individual’s sex is an unchangeable biological trait and deems it false to use a pronoun that does not align with the sex assigned at birth. The laws also prohibit the teaching of sexual orientation and gender identity until the eighth grade, effectively excluding these topics from K-12 education, in line with a previous decision by the state Board of Education.
Another law grants the DeSantis administration the power to revoke licenses from venues that allow minors to attend “adult live performances,” primarily targeting drag shows. Additionally, transgender individuals are prohibited from using restrooms or changing facilities that align with their gender identity in government establishments such as public schools, jails, and state colleges.
DeSantis justified these measures by stating that women should not have to worry about sharing a locker room with individuals of the opposite sex. The laws define female as a person assigned the biological sex responsible for producing eggs at birth, and male as a person assigned the biological sex responsible for producing sperm.
Despite widespread protests and opposition within Florida and across the country, the Republican-controlled legislature passed all of these laws during the final days of the 60-day legislative session earlier this spring.