Florida Outlaws Basic Human Rights

The transgender community is tired of being neglected and thought of as a political issue. Protesters have been gathering across the country to fight back against transphobia.
The transgender community is tired of being neglected and thought of as a political issue. Protesters have been gathering across the country to fight back against transphobia.
Instagram: @whatthetrans

On January 26, 2024, the governor of Florida, Ron Desantis continued his attack on the transgender community by outlawing basic human rights. Florida banned the changing of gender on drivers licenses, and certain applications under HB 1639. Cis gender, nonbinary, and transgender individuals, including those who have fully medically transitioned, now must label their diverse license with their assigned sex at birth, instead of their gender identity. This restricts individuals from their gender expression, puts one’s general safety and wellbeing at risk, and potentially “outs” them.

Within the past years, Florida has begun– and continues– their attempts to “outlaw” and repress LGBTQ+ individuals by stripping them of rights. Several bills, such as SB 254 (“Extreme Gender Affirming Care Ban”), and SB 1580 (“License To Discriminate In Healthcare”) restrict LGBTQ+ people from access to equal health care.

Medical providers are now able to opt out of service on a conscious-based objective against both patients and employees. Patients can be restricted or denied care, and employers can reject and refuse employment, based on gender expression and sexuality. Medical providers are also unable to provide any and all gender affirming care.

Other bills such as, HB 1069 (“Don’t Say LGBTQ+ Expansion Bill”) and SB 266 (“MAGA Takeover Of Higher Ed Bill ”) challenge academic freedom by removing college majors, minors, and all funding affiliated with gender studies. They also banned the discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in all grades, forcing teachers to deadname and misgender students.

The overall discussion and progression of introducing the transgender community and their rights have been a controversial subject. Society just started making progress towards equality for the LGBTQ+ community. Back in 2015, less than ten years ago, same-sex marriage became legal nationwide. But these recent laws in Florida are bringing the community back down and restricting their progression.

A Florida English teacher, David Lockart, shared his insight on this issue, saying “It’s not just stripping away their equality, it’s stripping away their humanity. It’s telling them, on the deepest levels possible, ‘You don’t exist,’ and ‘Your perceptions of who you are as an individual are wrong. You’re deluded.’”

While this anti-transgender and anti-LGBTQ+ movement is pushed in many red states, students across the nation grow fearful of what the following years will show. David Lockart adds, “We are at a crucial tipping point in our history. If people do not wake up, pay attention, and vote, this country will be so radically changed from what the Founding Fathers envisioned that it will never be recoverable.”
This country is simply being divided once again over a community of people, “We’ve already seen this in Nazi Germany. Once they select one group and build momentum, they’ll just keep finding more people they don’t like and add them to the list,” David Lockart added. As these patterns continue, opinions rally together to continue their pushbacks against minoritized communities.

Florida’s anti-LGBTQ+ bans and laws technically don’t apply to Golden Valley’s students, especially those who are cis and/or straight. However, many queer/ally students and teachers are still changing their mannerism and day-to-day lives.

Many LGBTQ+ students grow more fearful as more laws, bans, and bills get passed across the country. Golden Valley student Alicia Reinhold shares, “When laws come out like that, that take away rights, it starts to be what else are they going to take away next?” Students are found keeping their guard up and preparing for what attacks come next, and how much closer they are to being overpowered. “It sucks, it’s really discriminatory.”

Florida’s new laws and the national discourse around LGBTQ+ rights have made Golden Valley teachers consider how this influences their sensitivity towards students, and how they refer to their gender identity. A Golden Valley teacher, Michael Bunch, claims, “it’s hard for me to really say for certainty when people feel what or how they feel, but I do know that our constitution says we have the right to pursue happiness, and life and liberty. And I don’t really see how limiting people as how they describe themselves is really doing that.” Differences in views on this heavy topic often separates teachers at GV, creating a more tense environment from ‘non affirming’ teachers and an open and supportive environment from ‘ally’ teachers.

Within this past month, Golden Valley’s Pride club has made sure to help LGBTQ+ students identify the shift in teachers’ environments through lanyard badges. Teachers were given a card to display in their lanyards to identify themselves and their room as an open and safe space for students of the community as anti-LGBTQ+ issues become more contentious.

All things considered, anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-transgender bans in Florida are dividing the country, stripping away basic human rights and denying the recognition of transgender individuals. As Florida’s attempts to diminish and eradicate the LGBTQ+ community through a series of bills and laws, the community still stands firm in their fight for equality. Through fear of those against it, and radiance of those for it, the question still remains of what the future will hold.

About the Contributor
Sophia Marks, Staff Writer
I'm Sophia Marks, a senior here at Golden Valley and a staff writer for the CePAT news team. Outside of journalism, I had a very full schedule. I've been involved in sports since I was 12, and competed with GV’s varsity softball my freshman and sophomore year. Since then, I have been working alongside GV athletics as a head sports medicine student. I was a co-founder of both the sports medicine club, and the sports medicine program at GV. Aside from the medical field, I'm passionate about LGBTQ+, writing, music, and sports because of their evolving discussions and new beginnings. As a student journalist, I'm excited to write about events surrounding uncomfortable topics in order to bring awareness and share these stories. Being a journalist, you have power in your writing, and are given the opportunity to bring a light to your articles. After high school, I have plans to major in biology and earn my BS, then continue my education in grad school.