JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Aspects of the so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law would be expended to government agencies and businesses that receive state funding under a newly filed Florida bill.
Earlier this year, state lawmakers passed an expansion to the law opponents dubbed ‘Don’t Say Gay’ that prohibited students, teachers and school faculty from being required to use pronouns that don’t align with a person’s biological sex.
Now, state lawmakers are looking to expand those provisions to government employees and employees working for nonprofits and companies that receive state funding.
“This is not really a bill about pronouns,” said former State Representative Carlos Gillermo Smith with Equality Florida.
Smith argued the bill, which also prohibits mandatory employee training or ‘any other activity’ on sexual orientation and gender identity, is intended to censor those who work in LGBTQ spaces and intimidate LGBTQ organizations and employees.
“Don’t Say Gay or Trans was not about children, it was about bigotry, homophobia, transphobia. They are proving that with this bill,” said Smith.
But Anthony Verdugo with the Florida Christian Family Coalition argued the legislation is intended to protect the religious and conscientious freedom of all employees.
“What this does is it creates an equal playing field,” said Verdugo.
Verdugo said he believes by keeping the bill limited to the government and entities that work with the government it will stand up in the courts, unlike provisions of the so-called ‘Stop WOKE Act’, which applied to private businesses.
“If you still want to call a man a woman or a woman a man, you certainly can. You have that freedom, but what the government does not have the right to do is to impose that on an individual,” said Verdugo.
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The bill has not yet been scheduled for any committee hearings, and while it’s been filed in the House, there is not yet a companion bill in the Senate.
Session officially kicks off in January.