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Florida's 'Don't Say Gay' bill clears final hurdle before vote

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has indicated he would sign the "Don't Say Gay" bill currently awaiting a vote in the state Senate. Photo: Courtesy Reuters
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has indicated he would sign the "Don't Say Gay" bill currently awaiting a vote in the state Senate. Photo: Courtesy Reuters  

A hotly contested bill making its way through the Florida Legislature has cleared its final hurdle before being sent to the floor of the state Senate. The bill passed the state House of Representatives February 23 by a vote of 69-47.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) has indicated he will sign the legislation when it reaches his desk.

Senate Bill 1854, better known as the "Don't Say Gay" bill, would ban discussion of LGBTQ issues and sexual identity in the state's primary classrooms, as reported in the Bay Area Reporter on February 23.

The bill cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee February 28 by a vote of 12-8 and is now headed for its final vote. No date has been set but the bill will have to be voted on before the end of the Florida Legislature's session on March 13, said Matthew McClain, an aide to the bill's sponsor in the Senate, Senator Dennis Baxley (R).

The bill is expected to pass, said McClain in a phone call with the B.A.R. "[Sen. Baxley] feels good about it, yes."

Opposition to the bill has been loud, and a recent poll suggests that more Floridians are against the bill than support it, with 49% opposed and 40% in favor. If the bill does pass, it will take effect on July 1.

Last year, DeSantis kicked off Pride Month by signing an anti-transgender bill into law. That resulted in the Sunshine State being added to California's banned taxpayer-funded travel list for state employees and college athletic teams. DeSantis signed into law legislation requiring transgender youth play on sports teams based on their sex assigned at birth.

The California law, Assembly Bill 1887, was authored by gay Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Campbell) back in 2015 and signed by former governor Jerry Brown. It bans state-funded travel to states that discriminate against LGBTQ people. The restriction on travel covers government workers, academics, and college sports teams at public universities.

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