TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Gov. Ron DeSantis expanded his controversial Parental Rights in Education law Wednesday, signing five bills at a ‘Protecting Florida Children’ event in Tampa.
The newly signed bills restrict “indoctrination” and “confusing concepts like gender identity, forced pronouns, and males competing in woman’s sports” within the Florida education system.
The first bill, SB 254, outlaws “permanent mutilating surgical procedures” and experimental puberty blockers for minors, and requires adults receiving these surgeries and hormone therapies be informed of the irreversible nature and dangers associated with them.
The second bill, HB 1069, removes “pronoun politics” and expands the existing Parental Rights in Education law, which is known by many as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law. The bill will remove the obligation for Florida students and teachers to “declare” their pronouns. It also bars schools from forcing students, faculty, and staff to use pronounces not based on biological sex.
“We’re not doing the pronoun Olympics here in Florida,” DeSantis said. “Let the kids be kids. Let them be in school like normal and it’s inappropriate to force them to try to choose these pronouns.”
The third bill, HB 1438, shields children from “sexually explicit adult performances” in all venues, including drag shows and strip clubs. It also imposes penalties for venues that admit children into an adult performance.
The fourth bill, HB 1521, requires state-run buildings and schools with a restroom, locker room, or changing facility to have separate facilities for men and women based on the sex assigned at birth.
Lastly, HB 225 preserves the right to public prayer at the beginning of high school sporting events and imposes state control over the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) to “ensure women’s sports are protected.”
“Florida is proud to lead the way in standing up for our children,” DeSantis said. “As the world goes mad, Florida represents a refuge of sanity and a citadel of normalcy.”
Democrats opposed the bills and LGBTQ+ rallies were held at the Capitol during the session that ended two weeks ago, but Republicans have a supermajority in both chambers and the bills easily moved through the legislative process.
Equality Florida held a news conference immediately following the signing, calling the package the largest slate of anti-LGBTQ bills to be signed in a single legislative session in Florida history.
“We receive this as it is intended, as an all out attack on freedom,” said Joe Saunders, Senior Political Director with Equality Florida.
Critics worry the new laws will spread more fear and hatred towards the LGBTQ community.
“This is extremely scary. We have families that are leaving the state because they cannot properly parent their child,” said Jennifer Solomon, President of PFLAG South Miami.
“We will make sure every family is respected and every child is protected. Florida is the frontline in this fight against fascism,” said Nadine Smith, Executive Director of Equality Florida.