TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida’s “Safety in Private Spaces” Act will take effect on Saturday, July 1.
The new law, HB 1521, makes it a crime for someone to use restrooms or locker rooms that don’t align with their sex at birth.
It applies to publicly-owned facilities in educational buildings, government buildings, correctional facilities and all school changing facilities.
The law got Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signature back in May.
“A woman should not be in a locker room, having to worry about someone from the opposite sex being in their locker room,” DeSantis said.
The law defines “female” as “a person belonging, at birth, to the biological sex which has the specific reproductive role of producing eggs”; and “male” as “a person belonging, at birth, to the biological sex which has the specific reproductive role of producing sperm.”
The policy has faced fierce criticism from LGBTQ+ advocacy groups like Equality Florida. They say the change will bar transgender people from using facilities in line with their gender identity.
“This is a real infringement on access to bathrooms, particularly for the transgender community that we know is likely to be targeted under this law,” Equality Florida Public Policy Director Jon Harris Maurer said.
8 On Your Side spoke with a member of the transgender community. Although they were not comfortable revealing their identity, they provided the following statement:
“Mandating people use bathrooms based on their assigned sex invites targeted harassment for every person- trans or not- who uses the restroom. It makes trans kids not want to do the basic human function of relieving themselves because they’re uncomfortable in their skin and with the people around them, afraid of abuse from fellow students and citizens. It makes any person that deviates slightly from the norm fear when they just want to use the restroom. We’re people too, and our existence doesn’t hurt anybody. What does hurt people are laws based on nothing but hate and bigotry.”
Florida’s GOP-controlled legislature pushed the bill through during the 2023 legislative session.
“If a person enters the restroom and a person believes them to be in the wrong facility they could ask them to leave,” the bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Rachel Plakon said.
“This law is not about targeting any particular group of people. It is about the safety of all Floridians,” Plakon added during an interview on Friday.
The law goes into effect on Saturday, but rules, policies, and procedures from any included entities will not be required until Jan. 1, 2024.
It’s not until July 1, 2024 that a formal complaint could be brought against any entity by the Attorney General should they willfully violate the law.
How the policy will be enforced between now and then remains somewhat unclear.