*Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus*
The recent abundance of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation has made Florida a not-so-safe space for the queer community. “It’s dangerous in the sense that by bringing attention to the queer community without valid information, by saying that we’re dangerous, the general public is not being informed,” USF St. Petersburg student and LGBTQ+ activist Charlie Riggs tells Her Campus. “In fact, they’re being misled and making it more dangerous for queer people to go to Pride and other events without being at risk of a group wanting to speak out against them. They’re creating an atmosphere where you’re forced to be in danger, regardless of whether the law is doing that to you or not, but in this case, the law just happens to be doing that as well.”
What do these laws entail?
SB 254 prohibits medical providers from administering gender-affirming care to minors and allows Florida courts to take custody of minors who are being “subjected to sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures.” Transgender adults must have written consent from the Board of Medicine and the Board of Osteopathic Medicine to receive care.
HB 1069, commonly known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, was expanded to ban classroom instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in all grades K-12. It also requires students and teachers to use pronouns that align with their biological sex.
SB 1438 prohibits minors from attending drag shows, which fall under the category of “sexually explicit adult performances.” Any establishment that admits a child is at risk of having their license revoked.
HB 1521 requires people to use restrooms and changing facilities that correspond with their sex assigned at birth. This applies to educational institutions (both K-12 and postsecondary), public buildings, and correctional institutions.
In my opinion, these laws are heightening anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric in Florida, creating a dangerous atmosphere where queer individuals are left feeling ostracized and unsafe. On May 17, a traffic sign was tampered with to read, “kill all gays,” according to the Orlando Police Department. This alarming incident increased fear among the community and further emphasized the dangers of legislation promoting division and hatred toward the LGBTQ community. As a result of these safety concerns surrounding the legislation, several Pride events have been canceled, including in Tampa, St. Cloud, Port St. Lucie, and Lake County. However, some cities have stressed the importance of queer visibility and celebration now more than ever. St. Pete Pride has made a statement on Instagram confirming that their events, parades, and festivals will still be taking place throughout the month.
Want to get involved?
If you’re looking to protest this legislation, Charlie Riggs is leading a campaign to send a compilation of letters to the state and federal government. To participate, write a letter expressing your opposition and reasoning, referencing specific bills. Then, email your letter to firstname.lastname@example.org, who will send it to the government on your behalf.
Everyone is welcome to participate. “You don’t have to be queer, you don’t have to be a Democrat, you don’t even have to be involved politically to take a stand for what you know is right,” Riggs said. All you have to do is talk to the person next to you, get some information, and decide what you think is right.”
If letters aren’t your thing, there are more ways to help the cause. “The best thing everyone can do right now is stay informed on what’s going on,” Riggs said. “By going to whatever Pride events still stand, talking to the people around you, and asking if they have an interest in this and would like to learn more, not only are you spreading the word, but you’re supporting the community regardless of if you’re a part of it or not.”