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Florida Senate Democrats Accuse DeSantis of 'Legalizing Discrimination' by Signing Anti-LGBTQ Legislation

Florida - Thursday May 18, 2023: Members of the Senate Democratic Caucus are accusing Governor DeSantis of legalizing discrimination by signing into law five measures they view as anti-LGBTQ legislation.

"These bills take us several steps back as a society that’s fought hard for progress and equality," said Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book (D-Davie). "Being gay or trans isn’t perverse. It isn’t dangerous. What’s dangerous is the discrimination legalized today."

Among the bills signed by the Governor is Senate Bill 254 which prohibits sex reassignment surgeries, which the Governor called "mutilation" and the Senate Democrats characterize as "gender affirming care."

"These continued attacks on the LGBTQ community and young people are at the center of DeSantis’ misplaced priorities and wildly out of step with where Floridians actually are on these issues," said Senator Shevrin Jones (D-Miami Gardens). "Real leaders look out for the safety and well-being of ALL people, not just some. The people of Florida are looking for results and action from their elected officials, not division and attacks on our freedoms.”

The new laws include an expansion of last year’s legislation banning classroom instruction on sexual orientation up to third grade, which critics have called the Don’t Say Gay bill. The new measure, House Bill 1069 raises that instruction ban to 8th grade.

“The Don’t Say Gay expansion legislation requires a gulf between students and teachers that doesn’t serve either," said Senator Geraldine Thompson (D-Orlando). "Students will rely on television, social media and their peers for information they should be able to gather from trusted teachers."

The Senators pointed out that the Governor signed the bills into law on Wednesday, May 17, which is International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.

“These bills are mean spirited, unnecessary and won’t stop people from being gay or trans," said Senator Victor Torres (D-Orlando). "What it will do is put a target on their backs and increase the instances of bullying and suicides of LGBTQ Floridians. It will put people like my granddaughter in harm’s way which is why we need to be teaching and legalizing acceptance - not hate.”