Nation's largest LGBTQ advocacy group joins others in issuing Florida travel advisory
TALLAHASSEE — The nation's largest LGBTQ civil rights group has joined multiple other organizations in issuing a Florida travel advisory.
The Human Rights Campaign along with Equality Florida, which had already issued an advisory last month, posted an updated one for the LGBTQ community, citing Gov. Ron DeSantis' policies.
In a press release, the two organizations warn LGBTQ people of the risks of traveling to the Sunshine State because of six bills passed this Legislative session that they say are "hostile."
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The advisory is not "a blanket recommendation against travel nor a call for boycott," the press release reads.
"Those who visit must join us in their vocal opposition to these dangerous policies," said Kelley Robinson, president of the Human Rights Campaign, in the release.
Last week, the NAACP and the League of United Latin American Citizens, the nation's largest and oldest Hispanic organization, also issued advisories, warning of hostility toward Africans American, Latino and LGBTQ communities.
Last month, when Equality Florida issued its original advisory, so did the Florida Immigrant Coalition, which is made up of more than 65 organizations.
Also last week, DeSantis, who is expected to officially announce his presidential campaign on Wednesday, signed into law four bills that directly or indirectly target transgender people and the broader LGBTQ community. He also signed a ban on state funding for DEI programs at Florida's public universities.
The four bills were among the more than dozen that Republican lawmakers filed this session tackling transgender and LGBTQ issues.
“We are going to remain a refuge of sanity and a citadel of normalcy, and kids should have an upbringing that reflects that,” DeSantis said at the bill signing.
The new laws restrict gender-affirming care for kids and adults, require people to use public bathrooms that align with their sex assigned at birth, ban kids from attending “adult live performances," which is targeted at drag shows, restrict preferred pronouns in schools and expand Florida's Parents Right law, derided by critics as the "Don't Say Gay" law.
"Because of Ron DeSantis and his frenzied appeal to extremists, LGBTQ+ people in Florida are finding themselves in a state of emergency every single day," Robinson said. "Since the day he took office, Governor DeSantis has weaponized his position to weave bigotry, hate and discrimination into public law for his own political gain."
The governor's office did not immediately respond to a media request about the Human Rights Campaign advisory. But it has responded to the previous advisories, calling them stunts.
"We aren’t going to waste time on political stunts but will continue doing what is right for Floridians," wrote Jeremy Redfern, DeSantis' press secretary, in an email last week.
Another aide on Twitter shared the governor's post about 2023's record Q1 tourism results, which pointed to the largest volume of visitors ever recorded in a single quarter.
USA Today Network-Florida government accountability reporter Douglas Soule is based in Tallahassee, Fla. He can be reached at DSoule@gannett.com. Twitter: @DouglasSoule. The Tallahassee Democrat's children and families reporter Ana Goñi-Lessan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @goni_lessan. Pensacola News Journal's Brandon Girod contributed to this report.