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Florida Governor strips funding for LGBTQ people from state budget at start of Pride Month

Gov. Ron DeSantis
Gov. Ron DeSantisPhoto: Shutterstock

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) slashed funding for LGBTQ issues from the state budget on the second day of Pride Month. The move erased earmarks to support homeless and abused youth. It also cut funds that provided mental health services to survivors of the Pulse nightclub mass shooting.

On the first day of Pride Month, the ardent Trump supporter signed a law that would ban transgender girls from playing school sports.

Related: “Christian” Trump supporters yell vulgar slurs at trans kids attending Florida school board meeting

The cut slashed $150,000 earmarked for the Orlando United Assistance Center to provide mental health services for the Pulse victims. The governor’s office said in a statement that there are other ways for them to access services despite the state’s abysmal record on providing basic healthcare services to minority groups.

“Yesterday marked the first day of Pride Month, and Gov. DeSantis has once again proved that he is one of the most homophobic and transphobic governors in the United States,” said George A. Wallace, LGBT+ Center Orlando executive director. The center runs the assistance fund.

“Gov. DeSantis vetoed $1.5 billion in total, which included dozens of line items. Although the specific earmark for Pulse survivors was among those items vetoed, the funding is not going away,” said DeSantis Press Secretary Christina Pushaw.

“Gov. DeSantis has been a champion on mental health since day one — and he absolutely supports every Floridian who has experienced such horrific trauma, which has a lifelong impact on survivors. To this end, the new budget ensures that Floridians in need — including LGBTQ Floridians — will be able to access vital support and resources.”

“Let’s be clear about what this is: Gov. DeSantis has declared war on Florida’s LGBTQ community,” Brandon Wolf, a survivor of the shooting, said.

“Before the 2019 Remembrance Ceremony, Gov. DeSantis stood on hallowed ground, steps from where I escaped the building in 2016, and promised me that he would always support those of us impacted by the Pulse nightclub shooting,” Wolf said. “Today, almost two years later to date, he vetoed mental health services for us. I will never forget.”

DeSantis also cut $750,000 meant for the Zebra Coalition to provide critically needed care for abused and abandoned LGBTQ youth.

“This money would have helped LGBTQ+ youth facing homelessness, bullying, isolation from their families, physical and sexual abuse, and drug abuse,” said Heather Wilkie, Zebra Coalition executive director. “We were planning to expand our housing capacity from 11 to 35 beds for homeless youth and were honored for the support of so many of our state legislators. Now we’re unsure where the money will come from.”

“Vetoing funding for Pulse survivors days before the 5 year remembrance is heartless. Vetoing funds for LGBTQ homeless youth is indefensible,” out state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D) tweeted. “During Pride 2021 following your attack on trans youth? Gov. Ron DeSantis what did LGBTQ people do to you to earn your contempt?”

Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) agreed, tweeting, “It’s targeted. The cruelty is the point.”

The state got national attention in April because a previous version of the law DeSantis eventually signed required girls whose gender is “disputed” to undergo genital examinations.

S.B. 1028 now requires girls whose gender is disputed (or all girls who want to participate in school sports, the bill is not clear) to show a birth certificate from “at or near birth.”

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