Florida passes chilling new bill expanding Don’t Say Gay and banning trans people from toilets

A person holds a sign reading 'You cannot erase us' with a rainbow LGBTQ+ flag below it during a protest against Republish's pushing 'Don't Say Gay or Trans' bills

Florida lawmakers have passed a new bill that excludes trans people from toilets that align with their gender and would legally force them to leave a single-sex space if asked to do so by another person.

The state has also expanded its Don’t Say Gay bill, again – this time prohibiting teachers from using trans or non-binary students’ preferred pronouns.

On Wednesday (4 May), the Florida senate passed HB 1521 – known as the Facility Requirements Based on Sex bill – which would make it a misdemeanour trespassing offence for someone to use toilets that don’t align with their biological sex.

HB 1521 states there will be “exclusive use of restrooms by gender”, and “exclusive use of changing facilities” and if someone asks a trans person to leave, they must “immediately depart”.

The bill is headed to Florida governor Ron DeSantis’ desk and he is expected to sign it into law.

Democratic state representative Kelly Skidmore criticised her Republican colleagues’ actions. “You have no idea what you’re doing here because you can’t think past your hatred, and you can’t think past your discrimination,” she said.

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On the same day HB 1521 was voted through, DeSantis’ Don’t Say Gay bill, also known as The Parental Rights in Education Act, was expanded.

Florida governor Ron DeSantis wears a suit and tie as he gestures with one hand while speaking to people off camera
Florida governor Ron DeSantis is expected to sign the new anti-LGBTQ+ bills into law. (Getty)

The expansion will include a ban on “classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity” for pupils up until the eighth grade. The bill from 2022 only covered students up to grade three. 

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In addition, teachers will only be allowed to use the pronouns on students’ birth certificates.

Republican state representative Adam Anderson defended the expanding of the legislation, saying it “promotes parental rights, transparency and state standards in Florida schools’.

He added: “It requires that lessons for Florida’s students are age-appropriate, focused on education and free from sexualisation and indoctrination.”

Democrats have challenged the Republicans and called the proposed laws an attack on LGBTQ+ people.

Openly gay Democrat state representative Shevrin Jones said on the senate floor: “Imagine living in a state where you are the target of the political culture war.”

Democratic Florida senator Victor Torres, whose granddaughter is transgender, expressed his fears concerning about the bill.

“Somebody out there is going to take that into his or her own hands in stopping somebody who’s transgender from using a bathroom,” he said.

“You know my granddaughter’s transgender. She’s very quiet, very reserved, a loving person, but she feels threatened out there. These type of bills always, always affect the child and what they want to do, where they want to go.”

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If DeSantis signs HB 1521 into law, local school districts will be required to implement rules to discipline students who use toilets that don’t align with their biological gender while colleges and government offices will also have to establish disciplinary procedures.

Florida’s move follows in Idaho’s footsteps with the Gem State having signed an anti-trans bathroom bill into law in March.

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