Florida travel advisory issued by state LGBTQ civil rights group

ByKiara Alfonseca ABCNews logo
Thursday, April 13, 2023

Florida's largest LGBTQ civil rights group has issued a travel advisory for the state.

Equality Florida says the advisory, issued Wednesday, was prompted by "the passage of laws that are hostile to the LGBTQ community, restrict access to reproductive health care, repeal gun safety laws, foment racial prejudice and attack public education by banning books and censoring curriculum."

A spokesperson for Gov. Ron DeSantis' office told ABC News in a statement: "We aren't going to waste our time worrying about political stunts. We will continue doing what is right for Floridians."

Several bills in the state legislature aim to restrict education, programming or curriculum relating to sexual orientation or gender identity in state schools and limit access to transgender health care for people under 18.

Some state policies already restrict these issues, but new bills aim to expand restrictions. Anti-LGBTQ rhetoric has also permeated the state legislature, with one lawmaker calling transgender people "demons" and comparing them to "mutants" before apologizing for the statements.

The organization is urging families to consider relocation, asking students to reconsider attending colleges and universities in the state and recommending that conference and event hosts relocate out of state.

"While losing conferences, and top students who have written off Florida threatens lasting damage to our state, it is most heartbreaking to hear from parents who are selling their homes and moving because school censorship, book bans and health care restrictions have made their home state less safe for their children," said Nadine Smith, Equality Florida Executive Director, in a statement.

Smith continued, "Whether you stay away, leave or remain we ask that you join us in countering these relentless attacks. Help reimagine and build a Florida that is truly safe for and open to all, and where freedom is a reality, not a hollow campaign slogan."

DeSantis has made his fight against many diversity and inclusion efforts a centerpiece of his administration.

In his election night speech in November, DeSantis asserted: "We reject woke ideology ... We will never, ever surrender to the woke agenda. People have come here because of our policies."

Woke is defined by the DeSantis administration as "the belief there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them," according to DeSantis' general counsel, as reported by The Washington Post.

Other organizations representing marginalized groups in the state, including the Florida Immigrant Coalition and the Florida chapters of the NAACP, have also issued similar travel advisories for the state.

The NAACP advisory came after the state rejected an Advanced Placement African American studies course in high schools.

"Any attempt to intentionally erase or misrepresent Black History is a direct attack on the foundation of comprehensive education," said NAACP Board of Directors Chairman Leon W. Russell.

He continued, "Any location in America where our history has been erased does not offer us, or our children a bright future."

In a March press conference, DeSantis responded to a reporter asking about the NAACP travel advisory.

"It's a pure stunt and fine, if you want to waste your time on a stunt, that's fine," DeSantis said. "But I'm not wasting my time on your stunt."

The news comes as major LGBTQ-oriented events such as Miami Beach's Pride and Orlando's Pride Prom are set to take place later this month.

Other events - such as the Out & Equal Workplace Summit and Gay Days, which affects many businesses in Orlando such as SeaWorld, Walt Disney World, Hilton Hotels & Resorts and more - may also be affected.

ABC News has reached out for comment from the affected companies. The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of ABC News.

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