Metro Weekly

Florida Wants to Pass a “Don’t Say Gay” Law for Workplaces

A proposed law in Florida would ban employers from recognizing transgender identities and effectively force LGBTQ nonprofits to shutter.

Photo: Vchalup | Dreamstime

A proposed law in Florida would ban the use of gender-affirming pronouns in government and private workplaces. It would also effectively outlaw the existence of LGBTQ-focused nonprofits in the state.

Sponsored by Florida State Rep. Ryan Chamberlin (R-Belleview), HB 599 has been dubbed as a “Don’t Say Gay” bill for government and private work environments.

Under the bill, state and local government employers and contractors — which the bill defines as any “individual, partnership, corporation, or business entity” that “enters or attempts to enter into a contract for services” with any state, county, municipality, or special tax district in Florida — would be barred from using pronouns and honorific titles that do not match their assigned sex at birth, which is described as “an immutable biological trait.”

As noted by transgender journalist Erin Reed, due to the bill’s wide-ranging definition of “contractors,” the prohibition would apply to private businesses, stadiums, convention centers, hospitals, insurance agencies, and any other entities that contract with local jurisdictions.

  • The bill would ban state and local governments from asking employees and contractors for their preferred pronouns. It would also allow employees to misgender their transgender co-workers without repercussion.
  • The proposed law prohibits employers from disciplining employees for holding anti-LGBTQ beliefs inside or outside of work.
  • All nonprofit organizations or businesses that receive state funding would be prohibited from requiring employees to undergo LGBTQ competency training. Critics argue that would likely lead to a shutdown of every LGBTQ nonprofit in the state.

“Florida Republicans just filed legislation that would essentially ban gender pronouns in PRIVATE businesses and prohibit trainings about pronouns in nonprofits too,” wrote State Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-Orlando) on the social media platform X. “Would basically ban [LGBTQ rights organization Equality Florida] from existing.”

Eskamani also called the bill “bigoted, unnecessary and highly unconstitutional.”

Reed, a critic of the law, wrote that the law, if interpreted broadly enough, could be used as a means to shutter left-leaning advocacy organizations, Planned Parenthood clinics that provide gender-affirming care to trans individuals, and state hospitals or clinics that educate employees or patients on HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases.

“It would be nearly impossible for an LGBTQ+ organization to run without providing instruction, training, and ‘other activity’ around gender identity or sexuality,” Reed wrote. “It would be a blatant power grab by the state targeting organizations critical to the government and would further drive LGBTQ+ activism and organizing underground in the state.”

Reed also noted that the restrictions on nonprofit organizations could have a similar impact to Russian laws banning “LGBT propaganda,” which government officials have used to try and shut down pro-LGBTQ organizations.

The European Court of Human Rights has chastised Russia for the law, ruling that it infringes on the civil rights of LGBTQ individuals.

Former Florida State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-Orlando), who is openly gay and serves as a senior adviser to Equality Florida, attempted to lay out the far-reaching nature of the bill on X.

“The Florida GOP has introduced sweeping new legislation imposing unprecedented state control over the work of LGBTQ or allied charities, and aggressively targeting the rights of trans employees to exist in government workplaces. This bill is NOT just about pronouns.”

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