Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Updated Florida travel advisory

In the wake of Florida’s most anti-LGBTQ legislative session in history, Equality Florida and the Human Rights Campaign have issued an updated travel advisory that details risks associated with relocation or travel to the state.

In all, six anti-LGBTQ bills were passed and nearly all have been signed by Governor DeSantis. While not a blanket recommendation against travel nor a call for boycott, the travel advisory outlines the devastating impacts of laws that are hostile to the LGBTQ community, restrict access to reproductive health care, repeal gun safety policies, foment racial prejudice, and attack public education by banning books and censoring curriculum in order that prospective travelers or residents can make the best decisions for themselves and their families. 

The updated travel advisory comes days after similar notices were released by national civil rights organizations NAACP and LULAC. The groups warn of Florida’s “open hostility” toward the African American and Latino communities in the wake of laws signed by Governor DeSantis that censor the accurate teaching of American history, defund diversity, equity, and inclusion programs on campuses, propel bans on books about historical Black figures, target immigrants, and foment racist hate. The Florida Immigrant Coalition also released an advisory warning of the risks associated with relocation or travel to Florida in April. 

“Because of Ron DeSantis and his frenzied appeal to extremists, LGBTQ+ people in Florida are finding themselves in a state of emergency every single day. Since the day he took office, Governor DeSantis has weaponized his position to weave bigotry, hate, and discrimination into public law for his own political gain.  We see it as our duty to join Equality Florida — and LULAC and the NAACP — to provide guidance to our community,” said Kelley Robinson, President of the Human Rights Campaign. “Those who visit must join us in their vocal opposition to these dangerous policies. Those who pick another place to work, to go to school or to spend their vacation should make clear why they’re not heading to Florida. And to all of our friends and family in Florida, we stand with you and with Equality Florida — we’ll keep working hard to make Florida feel more like the home you deserve it to be.” 

Nadine Smith, Equality Florida Executive Director, called on Floridians and those across the country to unite and push back against the alarming rise of Governor DeSantis’ right-wing extremism. 

“Governor Ron DeSantis has inflicted deep and lasting damage upon our state, eroding the fundamental rights of our residents and visitors while exploiting the word ‘free’ as a hollow campaign slogan,” said Smith. “In free states, books are not banned, history remains uncensored, and healthcare is not criminalized. As a parent, I empathize with every family forced to leave Florida in search of accessible healthcare and inclusive schools for their children. But everyday, I see more and more parents stepping forward to defend their children, their neighbors, their schools, and their communities from these relentless attacks. 

Equality Florida stands steadfast on the frontlines, resolute in our commitment to create an inclusive and secure Florida that embraces and safeguards the rights of all residents.

If you come to Florida, join us in this fight. If you decide to leave or avoid the state, don’t abandon this fight. Florida is the frontline but this is a national battle for freedom.” 

Updates to the advisory include details about expanded anti-LGBTQ restrictions in health care and education, following the signing of laws that expand Don’t Say LGBTQ through eight grade (with Department of Education policy that expands those provisions to all grades), escalate book banning, threaten child custody agreements, and cut off care for a vast majority of transgender people in the state. The “Physicians Only” provision of SB 254 prohibits nurse practitioners and physician assistants from providing gender-affirming care to transgender adults, disrupting the health care of an estimated 80%+ of transgender patients at clinics statewide. In the immediate wake of the law’s signing, transgender Floridians began receiving notice that their care was being temporarily or permanently suspended

The advisory also notes the signing of Florida’s anti-trans bathroom law, a policy that will ban transgender people from using restrooms and changing facilities that align with how they live their lives in publicly-owned or leased buildings, which includes airports, government buildings, convention centers, parks, school campuses and stadiums. That law, which takes effect July 1, will subject visitors and residents alike to criminal penalties for refusing to leave a restroom when asked. 

While these laws will be enforced statewide, local business and government leaders are working to mitigate the harms. Those planning major events in the state are actively working to ensure adequate restroom capacity, provide information for attendees to support local pro-equality businesses, and mobilize their networks to be part of the solution in Florida. Local government leaders have begun meeting with Equality Florida and other groups to form LGBTQ task forces and discuss local policy and resource options to protect the community from the most damaging consequences of these laws. In defiance of DeSantis’ intimidation attempts, St. Pete Pride and city leaders have announced that their events will continue as planned and Come Out With Pride Orlando released their official event date. We encourage those interested in supporting the community to buy from or nominate a pro-equality business via the OpenDoors Florida directory. 

The updated advisory can be found here.

  • Source: HRC & Equality Florida

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