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Ron DeSantis signs a slate of anti-LGBTQ+ laws to make Florida “a citadel of normalcy”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) Photo: YouTube screenshot

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) spewed misinformation on Wednesday while signing multiple transphobic bills into law, including a ban on gender-affirming care for minors, restrictions on such care for adults, a ban on all-ages drag shows, and an anti-trans bathroom bill.

“As the world goes mad, Florida represents a refuge of sanity and a citadel of normalcy,” DeSantis said during his signing ceremony at a Christian school. He “uncharacteristically” didn’t take questions from the media afterwards, Insider reported.

One law, SB 254, forbids minors from accessing puberty blockers, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and gender-affirming surgeries.

“This will permanently outlaw the mutilation of minors,” DeSantis said, repeating a false right-wing claim at his bill-signing ceremony in Tampa. “I mean, they’re trying to do sex change operations on minors, giving them puberty blockers and doing things that are irreversible to them. We think this is very wrong.”

Puberty blockers and HRT are safe, reversible, have been prescribed to children for decades, and are considered essential to the well-being of trans people by major U.S. and world health organizations. Gender-affirming genital surgeries are not conducted on transgender minors. The bill has exceptions for gender-assignment surgeries for intersex youth.

The law also requires trans adults to submit a form to the state’s Board of Medicine and Board of Osteopathic Medicine explaining that they understand the risks of trans-related healthcare methods. Both boards have members appointed by DeSantis, Reuters reported.

Additionally, the law allows state officials to take temporary custody of children who may be receiving gender-affirming care now or in the future. The bill also gives a non-supportive parent preferred child custody rights in court divorce proceedings, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) noted.

DeSantis also signed HB 1069, an expansion of the state’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law. The expansion will ban discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in all grade school levels. The law will allow parents to challenge any books in school libraries and will require contested titles to be pulled from shelves before review. Additionally, the law will ban school officials from having to declare their own pronouns or use any student pronouns that don’t correlate with the student’s gender assigned at birth.

Another law, HB 225, allows DeSantis to reduce the number of board members in the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) from 16 to 13 and for DeSantis to appoint eight of the members, giving his appointees majority control. It’s expected that the appointees will place additional restrictions limiting trans girls’ participation in school sports.

The state’s new bathroom bill, HB 1521, criminalizes anyone who uses a toilet or changing facility that doesn’t match the gender they were assigned at birth. The law applies to public schools, universities, parks, prisons, and other government buildings but not to businesses and healthcare facilities. DeSantis said this law will ensure women’s safety, based on the myth that trans people are violent sexual predators who prey on innocent women and children.

The anti-drag law, HB 1438, allows the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation to revoke the business licenses of any venues that allow minors to see drag performances, even if their parents consent. Children will still be allowed to dine at Hooters and other so-called “breastaurants” where female servers wear skimpy outfits.

In a statement, Joe Saunders, senior political director of Equality Florida, wrote, “DeSantis has just signed into law the largest slate of anti-LGBTQ bills in one legislative session in the state’s history. This is an all out attack on freedom.”

“DeSantis doesn’t see freedom as a value worth defending, he sees it as a campaign slogan in his bid for the White House. And he is setting freedom — and Florida’s reputation — ablaze in his desperation to win the GOP nomination,” Saunders added. “The nation should be on high alert. We are all Floridians as DeSantis seeks to export this blueprint of authoritarianism to the rest of the country.”

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