Celebrating our wins in Florida!

March 26, 2024

By Jon Cohen

With less of a bang and more of a whimper, the Florida legislative session has come to a close. Thanks to our partners and the Florida Jewish community, we’ve stopped anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in its tracks! Here are some of our monumental wins in Florida and next steps to get involved:

21 out of the 22 anti-LGBTQ+ bills did not pass or were changed to exclude harmful provisions.

Some of these harmful bills were:

  • The Transgender Erasure Bill (HB 1639)
  • Don’t Say Gay or Trans at Work (HB 599/SB 1382)
  • The Preemption of Employment Protections Bill (HB 433/SB 1492)
  • Pride Flag Ban Bill (HB 901/SB 1120)
  • Criminalizing Sex Ed Bill (HB 1135/SB 1238)
  • The Juvenile Justice Package (HB 1425/SB 1352)

Learn more about these defeated bills from our partner, Equality Florida.

The one bill that did pass was The Stop WOKE Teacher Training Bill (SB 1372/HB 1291) However, it will likely be found unconstitutional because it was built on existing harms created by the Stop W.O.K.E. Act, which federal courts are blocking.

For the first time in recent history, a pro-LGBTQ+ bill was sent to the Governor’s desk!

The PEP Access Bill (HB 159/SB 1320) would make access to PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis medicine to prevent HIV after possible exposure) more widely available to help prevent HIV transmission. The legislation recognizes the tremendous scientific advances in the fight to combat HIV and AIDS.

These defeats prove that pushing anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is not a winning strategy. We deserve politicians who prioritize Floridians’ actual needs instead of focusing on ideological battles they can’t win. We’re proud of our partners and allies in the Florida Jewish community who are showing up to be a part of the political process and helping us to dismantle the work of extremist politicians and their culture wars.

We’re seeing this pushback in real time, as the courts render verdicts against ridiculous and pointless attacks on LGBTQ+ people. Several significant laws from the previous session, including Stop WOKE and the Drag Ban, have encountered substantial setbacks in legal proceedings and the courts. Most notably, advocates have reached an agreement with the State that will end the most harmful provisions of 2022’s Don’t Say Gay Legislation.

Here’s some of what the state of Florida has conceded to in this historic agreement:

  • Restores the ability of students and teachers to speak freely about LGBTQ+ people, families, and issues in the classroom; 
  • States that the law does not prohibit books, musicals, or plays featuring LGBTQ+ characters; 
  • Reiterates that the law does not prohibit anti-bullying guidance or resources aimed at improving the mental and physical health of LGBTQ+ students; 
  • Clarifies that the law does not require the removal of safe space stickers or the elimination of safe spaces; and
  • Protects GSAs (Gay-Straight Alliances/Genders-Sexualities Alliances) as an extracurricular activity.

We couldn’t celebrate these wins without all of you. Your commitment to our shared Jewish value of community responsibility, Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Bazeh, makes our work possible. Together, we’re creating a Florida Jewish community of belonging for all, thanks to those who joined us in Tallahassee and those who contacted their legislators to tell them that LGBTQ+ equality is a Jewish value.

While we take a beat to soak in this moment, we also recognize that the work continues. We’re joining our partners at Equality Florida on their Bring Back Books campaign to protect classrooms from censorship. Students deserve to be able to read books that reflect their own identity or the identities of their friends, neighbors, and family members. Book bans erase and stigmatize various communities, identities, families, and histories.

We need YOU to join us in this movement and commit to taking action by attending local school board meetings over the next three months. You can RSVP to the meetings by clicking HERE. You don’t need advocacy experience to make a difference in your community!

We are eternally grateful for your partnership in working to make the state of Florida a place where everyone can thrive.