Jan 10, 2024 - News

LGBTQ+ advocates are watching these Florida bills with concern

Animated illustration of the state of Florida with the LGBTQ Pride Flag colors falling off of it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

LGBTQ+ advocates are bracing for another tough legislative session for gay and transgender Floridians.

Driving the news: A group of transgender journalists and activists are tracking more than a dozen bills in Florida β€” and many more across the country β€” with possible implications for LGBTQ+ people as the annual lawmaking session begins this week.

Why it matters: The proposed legislation comes on the heels of what advocates said was a particularly brutal year for LGBTQ+ rights and signals that at least some members of the Republican-controlled legislature intend to go even further.

Yes, but: Whether that's a priority of Gov. Ron DeSantis and legislative leaders was less clear Tuesday as the lawmaking session got underway.

  • DeSantis barely touched on his legislative priorities during his state of the state address, while state House Speaker Paul Renner and state Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, in their opening remarks, focused on other issues.
  • The governor did, however, tout his and the Legislature's record protecting children from "indoctrination and sexualized curriculum" β€” terms he and Republican lawmakers have previously used when restricting discussion of LGBTQ+ issues in schools.

Here's a round-up of some of the bills LGBTQ+ advocates are watching with concern:

House Bill 1233

This proposal requires that the sex listed on a person's driver's license or state identification card matches their sex assigned at birth, effectively barring transgender Floridians from obtaining a state ID that matches their gender identity.

  • Such a law would also run the risk of outing a transgender person to anyone who checks their ID, said Alejandra Caraballo, a lawyer and trans rights advocate.
  • Applicants for a license or state ID would have to submit a sworn affidavit verifying the sex on their application matches the sex on their original birth certificate. Those who give false information will have their license revoked.

Plus: The bill mandates that any health insurance policies issued after July 1 allow transgender conversion therapy, or therapy that seeks to change a person's gender identity.

House Bill 599

This bill aims to bar transgender government employees and contractors from using the pronouns that correspond with their gender identity if they don't match their sex assigned at birth.

  • A similar law restricting pronoun use in schools is the subject of a lawsuit by a group of transgender teachers who say it's unconstitutional.

Plus: The new bill bans nonprofits and companies that receive state money from requiring "any training, instruction or other activity on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression."

House Bill 1780

Using similar wording to an unsuccessful bill filed last year, this proposal says that a person "cannot prove the truth of an allegation of discrimination with respect to sexual orientation or gender identity" by citing someone's religious or scientific beliefs.

  • In fact, such an allegation would be presumed to constitute defamation, the bill says.

House Bill 1135

This bill would create a new felony criminal statute against "lewd and lascivious grooming." As noted by independent journalist Erin Reed, the bill's sponsor previously referred to an all-ages drag show as "evil grooming."

  • The term "grooming" in relation to LGBTQ+ people exploded following the passage of the Florida education law known as "Don't Say Gay," per a 2022 report by the Human Rights Campaign.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Tampa Bay.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Tampa Bay stories

No stories could be found

Tampa Baypostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Tampa Bay.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more