Resistance Report Week 8: Drag Queens And Allies Descend On The Capitol
There’s only one week left of Florida’s 60-day legislative session – and Governor DeSantis’s rubber-stamping GOP legislature remains determined to push through as many bad bills from his Slate of Hate as possible before it comes to an end.
But here’s the thing. The more they try to pass anti-LGBTQ policies, designed to make us fearful and hide back in the closet, the stronger our Resistance becomes.
This week, hundreds of drag performers and allies from across Florida descended on the Capitol to #DragDeSantis – protesting his continued attacks on the LGBTQ community. Organized by Darcel Stevens, a Drag Queen activist from Orlando, the message of the march was clear: Drag Is NOT A Crime And Trans Lives Matter! It was an incredible showing of solidarity and a reminder to DeSantis that we aren’t going anywhere and the shows must go on. You can EXPECT US to continue to fight back.
We also want to thank our volunteer advocates who joined us to attend hearings, testify on various bad bills, and share their stories with lawmakers as part of our session-long Pride at the Capitol Campaign.
Volunteer advocates in the Capitol to show their opposition to anti-LGBTQ bills.
Meetings with lawmakers to stop anti-LGBTQ bills
We’re mobilizing weekly, in-person and virtually, to fight back against DeSantis’ fascist agenda. Will you stand with us and join the resistance?
Friend, we’re facing an unprecedented level of attacks from the Florida GOP, but we are keeping the pressure up every day until the last day of session and beyond.
Few people exemplify that fight better than this week's WINNER – Rep. Ashley Viola Gantt. All session, Rep. Gantt has been standing against the GOP's radical agenda. She's proven herself to be a rising star in the Florida House, helping to amend HB 1069 to remove a ridiculous ban censoring discussion of menstruation in schools. She asks tough and thoughtful questions, and has resisted authoritarian attempts to intimidate those standing up for the LGBTQ community. There's no doubt she'll continue to be a true champion for equality and justice in Florida.
This week's LOSER is Governor Ron DeSantis himself. Over the last week, DeSantis has continued to escalate his battle against Disney – all because they spoke out against the bigoted "Don't Say LGBTQ" law. His blatantly unconstitutional efforts to punish the corporation has now led Disney to file a lawsuit against him. If Ron DeSantis continues to antagonize Disney and wage this manufactured culture war, he'll put our economy and countless jobs at risk.
The end of session is rapidly approaching, which means Republican lawmakers are feeling pressure from the governor to continue to rubber stamp his Slate of Hate agenda.
Here are legislative updates from the bad bills that moved during week 8 of session:
🚨The License to Discriminate in Healthcare Bill (HB 1403/SB 1580)🚨
- What you need to know: This bill prioritizes personal beliefs over patient well-being. It would allow healthcare providers and insurers to deny a patient care on the basis of religious, moral or ethical beliefs. It creates a license to discriminate by allowing healthcare employers to discriminate in hiring, and it bars medical boards from disciplining doctors for spreading misinformation. No one should be denied access to critical medical care. The Senate version of this bill (SB 1580) was heard on the Senate floor today and passed by a vote of 28-11.
- How you can get involved: The bill will now head over to the Florida House for a vote. Send a message to House lawmakers urging them to OPPOSE SB 1580.
🚨The Anti-Trans Bathroom Bill (HB 1521/ SB 1674) 🚨
- What you need to know: This bill criminalizes transgender people for using the restroom that matches the gender they live every day. It prohibits gender-inclusive restrooms and changing facilities in schools, private businesses, public shelters, healthcare facilities, and jails. Transgender people are part of our families, workplaces, and our neighborhoods, and this law makes it impossible for them to go about their daily lives like other Floridians. It also opens the door to abuse, mistreatment, and more. The Senate version of this bill (SB 1674) was heard in its FINAL committee this week and was considerably narrowed before advancing after a vote of 14-6.
- How you can get involved: SB 1674 will be on the Senate floor for a final vote this Tuesday, May 2. Send a message to Senate lawmakers right away to OPPOSE this bill.
🚨The Trans Ban Bill (HB 1421/SB 254) 🚨
- What you need to know: This bill is a direct attack on the existence of transgender youth and adults, including government-forced detransition for minors currently accessing gender-affirming healthcare. It seeks to deny legal recognition via birth certificates for all ages, deny ALL gender-affirming care to minors, dramatically restrict access to care for adults, deny private insurance coverage to the extent care is available, and revoke licensure for health care providers who follow standards of medical care for transgender Floridians that are endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and other leading medical authorities. The bill was also amended to allow courts to modify custody agreements in favor of a non-affirming parent and against the interest of an affirming parent, and to add a ban on the use of telehealth for gender-affirming care for trans adults. After being amended to include more harmful language, the Senate version of this bill (SB 254) passed the House last week. It has now been sent BACK to the Senate.
- How you can get involved: Because of the changes made to SB 254 on the House floor, the Senate will need to vote again on this legislation. Click here to send a message to Senate lawmakers asking them to OPPOSE on SB 254.
Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (SD 28): 850-487-5028
Senator Corey Simon (SD 3): 850-487-5003
Senator Joe Gruters (SD 22): 850-487-5022
Senator Jay Collins (SD 14): 850-487-5014
Senator Illeana Garcia (SD 36): 850-487-5036
Senator Alexis Calatayud (SD 38): 850-487-5038
“Don’t Say LGBTQ” Expansion Bill (HB 1069/SB 1320)
- What you need to know: This bill would expand the Don’t Say LGBTQ law’s censorship provisions to 8th grade and revoke the right of parents to determine which pronouns the school system will use to address their own children. It would permit MORE book-banning and mandate IMMEDIATE REMOVAL of school books targeted for objection before they’re even reviewed. This bill would also revoke local school districts’ ability to craft comprehensive sex education, handing control of curriculum to the State Department of Education and further politicizing our classrooms.
- How you can get involved: SB 1320 is scheduled for the Senate floor this Tuesday, May 2. Contact Senators and tell them to vote OPPOSE SB 1320 and the expansion of the cruel “Don’t Say LGBTQ” law.
The MAGA Takeover of Higher Education (HB 999/SB 266):
- What you need to know: This bill is part of the censorship agenda that would shift control of higher education in Florida towards DeSantis and his appointees. It would ban state or federal funding for campus programs or activities that advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion, and ban general education courses that address concepts including systemic racism, sexism, oppression, or privilege. It would also allow political appointees to rewrite mission statements at all 12 public universities. The Senate version of this bill (SB 266) was heard on the Senate floor today and passed by a vote of 27-12.
- How you can get involved: This bill now heads to the House for a full vote. Find your Representative and tell them to vote NO on The MAGA Takeover of Higher Education (HB 999/SB 266).
In addition to the bills moving in the legislature, there are also some bad bills on Governor DeSantis’ desk awaiting signature. More on those below:
🚨The Anti-Drag Bill (HB 1423/ SB 1438)🚨
- What you need to know: This bill is NOT an outright ban on drag or prides, but it threatens excessive fines and license revocation against LGBTQ-friendly businesses, and possible jail time for individuals who admit minors into “adult live performances.” It uses vague and subjective language that will have a chilling effect on drag shows, an intended consequence of the bill. Like book bans and curriculum censorship, heavy-handed government regulation of drag is part of an ongoing effort to marginalize the LGBTQ community and their allies. Republican lawmakers also amended their bill to include “adult live performances” at city pride parades in an attempt to intimidate LGBTQ-friendly cities out of permitting any drag at all. But we refuse to let this bill stop us. Our community and its allies will continue to STAND STRONG, just as we did this week in the Capitol, and fight against the state’s all-out assaults on our democracy and our freedom. In case you missed it last week, Representative LaVon Bracy Davis’s debate against the Anti-Drag bill was 🔥.
Partisan School Board Elections (HB 31/SB 94)
- What you need to know: This resolution seeks to make Florida school board elections partisan. School Boards have been nonpartisan since 1998. Now they are under fire, targeted by extremists for putting children’s needs and safety first. School Boards should be about student success – not partisan battlefields.
We are asking you to CALL Ron DeSantis at 850-717-9337 and tell him not to sign these dangerous bills into law.
The Florida GOP and Governor DeSantis are in the news again this week as they continue to push forward their unpopular, extreme right-wing agenda. But we’re making headlines too.
With your help, we’re going to continue this fight until the last day of session and beyond.
And we’re not just fighting in Tallahassee, we’re showing up throughout our communities, too.
On Wednesday, Equality Florida joined students and community members protesting DeSantis’s attacks on academic freedom at the “Save New College Rally” in Sarasota. Follow Save New College for updates on ways you can continue speaking out.
Students and community leaders are hosting rallies throughout the state opposing DeSantis’ fascist agenda and speaking out against his Slate of Hate. We’re keeping track of upcoming rallies — find one near you!
Throughout the rest of session, we’re going to be continuing our Pride at the Capitol campaign in-person in Tallahassee, hosting virtual events, and using our social media to post updates, call out Florida lawmakers, and more.