In a move that has surprised absolutely no one, the horrendous legacy of Florida Governor and presidential candidate Ron DeSantis is on its way to further delegitimising the lives of LGBTQIA+ individuals in the Southern state. A bill, that was introduced on Tuesday 21 November 2023, will see DeSantis’ controversial ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law extend into workplaces in a terrifying way.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, let me break it down for you. In 2022, Florida announced a new piece of legislation which aimed to essentially completely halt teachers and educators from discussing or instructing students on matters of sexual or gender identity.
The bill’s authors write that their aim is to prohibit “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity.” However, in the text, the actual bill states that “classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur,” as reported by NBC News.
Ultimately, the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill has been a vicious piece of legislation, designed specifically to erase the identities of queer individuals and further alienate those who might be questioning their sexual identity or gender. It’s a clear legal repercussion of the sweeping anti-LGTBQIA+ social and cultural rhetoric that conservative politicians have perpetuated.
And now, it’s been taken a step further. As reported by PinkNews, the new extension of the 2022 bill, which was proposed by Florida state Republican Ryan Chamberlain, has one sole purpose: to ban workplaces from using the preferred pronouns of their colleagues and employees. It would also prohibit penalisation of employees who act on the “basis of deeply held religious or biology-based beliefs.”
Something we have seen expanding in Florida is the protection of religious beliefs over the protection of queer lives. For example, DeSantis’ ‘Protections of Medical Conscience’ bill, accurately dubbed the ‘Let Them Die’ Act, enables medical professionals and for-profit insurers to deny patients care based on religious, moral or ethical reasons or beliefs. In other words, in Florida, the lives of trans individuals in particular are more at risk than ever before.
LGBTQIA+ organisations have already labelled Florida as ‘unsafe’ for queer individuals, and this new legislation will only further deepen that concern. The scariest part about a lot of the anti-queer bills being pushed forward in Florida is the vague language being used. With so little specification, any queer act or expression is automatically at risk of being penalised.
While the banning of preferred pronouns in workplaces has not been officially signed into law, it’s highly likely that it will pass all of the legal stages. When it does, it will also see the removal of any sexual orientation and gender identity training in the workplace. It’s undeniable that the eradication of LGBTQIA+ expression and identity is becoming a reality in Florida.
Also, it’s important to highlight the fact that these right-wing conservative values are not concentrated in Florida. Rather they are rapidly spreading across the US. This alarming progression poses a significant threat to the civil rights of every marginalised individual in the nation.