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Outrage as Florida Republicans pass ‘fascist’ bill to remove trans kids from parents’ custody

‘These bills directly threaten transgender Floridians’ fundamental human rights and safety,’ an ACLU official says

Graig Graziosi
Thursday 20 April 2023 17:51 BST
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Republican lawmakers in Florida have sparked outrage after passing a bill that LGBTQ advocates say will strip trans children from their parents' custody.

SB254 — which one former lawmaker has called "fascist" legislation — would allow the state to rip children from their parents when they are "at risk" or "subjected" to gender-affirming health care. The bill is written so that even a child of Floridian parents living out of state could trigger the law.

“I can’t believe I’m writing this,” Carlos Guillermo Smith, a former House lawmaker, and the state’s first Latino LGTBQ representative, wrote on Twitter last month. “This is fascist.”

Kara Gross, the legislative director and senior policy counsel of the ACLU in Florida, called the state's assault on trans existence "shameful."

“It is shameful that our Florida Legislature continues to pass dangerous bills designed to silence, harm, and erase trans people in Florida," she said in a statement. "These bills directly threaten transgender Floridians’ fundamental human rights and safety. The Florida Legislature’s insistence on targeting trans people is bizarre, unnecessary, unconstitutional, and extremely dangerous."

She said bills like Florida's make it "impossible for transgender people to go about their daily lives like everyone else," and that it invites abuse and hostility from the public.

"This is state sanctioned discrimination against Florida's vibrant trans community," she said.

The Florida legislature approved three bills on Wednesday that aim to eliminate any expression of non-cis, non-hetero expression from public life.

HB1521 is the state's restroom bill, which prohibits businesses from utilising gender-inclusive bathrooms.

SB1438 empowers the state to take punitive measures against businesses that host LGBTQ friendly shows or drag performances. It also gives the state the power to prohibit minors from attending events it deems "inappropriate." Minors will be barred from events even if their parents consent, a policy that flies in the face of Governor Ron DeSantis’ educational agenda that favors parental consent to an extreme degree.

If SB1438 is made law, it would also likely mean the end of most Pride parades.

Alejandra Caraballo, a former staff attorney at the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, noted on Twitter today that Treasure Coast Pridefest has already cancelled its parade for this year.

She previously condemned HB254 as a Florida-approved pass for kidnapping trans children.

“This is a greenlight to transphobic family members to engage in state sponsored kidnapping,” she wrote.

The bills were approved shortly after the state renewed its controversial "Don't Say Gay" law, which prohibits teachers touching on sexual or gender identity issues while teaching young children.

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