Florida Republican lawmakers have successfully passed two bills aimed at banning diversity programs in colleges and prohibiting the requirement of using pronouns that do not correspond to a person’s sex.
These bills were approved on Wednesday by Republican supermajorities in both the House and Senate, and they are now awaiting the expected signature of Governor Ron DeSantis to become law.
Governor DeSantis, known for his strict conservative agenda, has been actively seeking to strengthen his base of support through such legislative measures. In the coming weeks, he is expected to announce his presidential campaign and challenge former-President Donald Trump for the GOP nomination.
The legislative session in Florida is set to end this week, and it has been dominated by Republican allies of Governor DeSantis who have been approving bills aligned with his agenda on various topics, including sexual orientation, gender identity, race, and education.
One of the bills, known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, was expanded upon by the Senate on Wednesday. In addition to preventing school employees or students from being compelled to use preferred pronouns, the bill also prohibits instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation until the eighth grade. Furthermore, it strengthens the ability of individuals to challenge school books, a cause that Governor DeSantis has repeatedly advocated for, resulting in the removal of several books deemed inappropriate by conservative groups.
Opponents of these bills, particularly Democrats such as State Senator Tracie Davis, expressed concern about the impact on families who do not conform to traditional norms. Davis highlighted the need to treat all families, regardless of their differences, as part of the fabric of Florida. On the other hand, Republican State Senator Erin Grall argued that society’s cultural warfare agenda is confusing children and advocated for protecting them from what she described as a sexualized agenda that hinders their ability to discover their true identities.
With the passage of these bills and Governor DeSantis’ expected endorsement, Florida is set to enact legislation that has generated both support and criticism, further igniting debates around diversity, inclusion, and education within the state.