GLMA Condemns Florida’s Newest Anti-LGBTQ+ Laws, Including Sweeping Attacks on LGBTQ+ Health Care

On May 17, 2023, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed four anti-LGBTQ+ bills into law. The sweeping legislative attack on the LGBTQ+ community includes restrictions targeting LGBTQ+ health care. This assault on the lives and wellbeing of the LGBTQ+ community is a further escalation from last week, on May 11, 2023, when Governor DeSantis signed SB1580 into law.

GLMA recognizes that these bills represent a significant escalation of the continued legislative attack against the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals everywhere. The implementation of these policies will serve to further erode the status of educational and health equity in Florida. 
Although all of said policies will negatively impact the LGBTQ+ community, SB1580: carving out exemptions for health professionals and SB1521: banning gender-affirming care are of particular concern for LGBTQ+ health professionals and those seeking LGBTQ+-affirming health care in the state. While SB1580 applies sweeping exemptions for health professionals to refuse care based on personal beliefs, SB1521 specifically targets the provision of gender-affirming care, barring access for minors and severely restricting access for adults. 

Taken together, these two bills constitute a comprehensive assault on equitable health care for LGBTQ+ Floridians and the negative impacts of care denial are probable, if not inevitable, in the health outcomes of the community. This is especially true for transgender and gender nonconforming folks seeking evidence-based gender-affirming care in a system that politicizes their treatment.

GLMA President Nick Grant, PhD, ABPP, and Executive Director Alex Sheldon, MA, have issued the following joint statement:
“In recent weeks, Florida has passed several bills that are an affront to healthcare ethics and the principles of equality and inclusivity that should govern healthcare practices. All individuals, including LGBTQ+ individuals, deserve access to respectful, compassionate, and evidence-based care. 
Healthcare professionals have an ethical obligation to prioritize patient care and well-being, and laws like SB1521 and SB1580 undermine this obligation. By restricting access to medically-necessary gender-affirming care and granting healthcare providers the ability to refuse treatment based on personal beliefs, this bill puts LGBTQ+ individuals at risk of being denied life-saving healthcare services, leading to potentially severe health consequences. 
As an organization dedicated to supporting LGBTQ+ medical professionals and advocating for LGBTQ+ health equity, we strongly condemn these regressive measures. We vehemently oppose these discriminatory bills and affirm our unwavering commitment to championing equitable and inclusive healthcare for all individuals, without exception. GLMA stands united in its resolve to fight against such legislation that undermines the principles of equality, respect, and evidence-based care.”

More information on the recent anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in Florida:

SB1580 Protections of Medical Conscience: Allows healthcare providers and payors to refuse to provide healthcare services to Floridians based on their “personal beliefs,” effectively creating a license to discriminate. Additionally, the bill grants providers full immunity from liability over any negative consequences resulting from their denial of care.

SB1580 encompasses a wide range of healthcare professionals and facilities, as it applies to individuals and institutions governed by multiple statutes. These include physicians, nurses, mental health providers, clinical lab personnel, pharmacies, hospitals, medical transport services, nursing homes, and more. The bill's definition of healthcare service is sweeping, encompassing activities to include medical research, medical procedures, testing, diagnosis, referral, dispensing medications, therapy, recordkeeping, and any other form of care or service. 

Furthermore, healthcare payors, as defined in the bill, extend beyond health insurers, health plans, and HMOs, also including employers and any other entity responsible for or involved in facilitating payment for healthcare services. 

SB254 Treatments for “Sex Reassignment”: Criminalizes gender-affirming care (GAC) for minors, and severely restricts access for many adults. The law grants emergency jurisdiction when trans youth are deemed "at risk" of receiving GAC, essentially legalizing the potential kidnapping of transgender youth from affirming parents. The law restricts adults from accessing care by preventing qualified, licensed professionals like physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners from providing this care and limiting the use of telehealth for prescribing gender-affirming medications.

The bill also requires the immediate license suspension for health care practitioners arrested for providing gender-affirming care to minors or “attempting, soliciting, or conspiring to” provide such care.

HB1521 Facility Requirements Based On Sex: Criminalizes trans people using the bathroom. Prohibits willfully entering restrooms or changing facilities unless the gender designation aligns with the individuals assigned sex at birth. Trans people are required to leave the restroom or gendered facility when asked to do so.

While not applicable to private businesses, HB1521 affects government-owned buildings, including airports, convention centers, stadiums, state parks, beaches, and educational facilities. Failure to enforce this discriminatory policy could lead to the revocation of operating licenses or legal action by the state Attorney General.

HB1069 Education: An expansion of the previous “Don’t Say Gay” legislation to 8th grade and to all private schools. The prior law was already expanded to 12th grade via administrative rules by the Florida Department of Education. Specifies “age-appropriate” curriculum restrictions for all ages from prekindergarten through 12th grade. This law prohibits any instruction on the topics of human gender and sexuality for all students between prekindergarten and 8th grade.

HB1069 includes a definition of “sex” for Florida Early Learning-20 Education Code, as well as requirements for instruction relating to topics such as gender identity, human sexuality, and reproductive health. It prevents district school boards from imposing or enforcing requirements that personnel or students be referenced with pronouns that do not correspond with the individual’s biological sex - as defined in the bill.

SB1438 Protection of Children: Sweeping ban of drag performances through the use of vague and obscure language targeting “adult-oriented performances.” Particularly concerning is the provision that imposes criminal penalties on public officials who approve permits for events featuring drag. 

SB1438  provision is expected to result in event cancellations and refusals to grant permits for pride celebrations. Additionally, it grants the state extensive powers to target venues through administrative agencies, as has been witnessed previously by Governor DeSantis' administration.

As the oldest and largest association of LGBTQ+ and allied health professionals, GLMA calls on lawmakers and advocates alike to join us in opposing these harmful measures and work towards a future where every person, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, can access the healthcare they need and deserve. 

Together, we will continue to advocate for a healthcare system that is fair, compassionate, and inclusive for all. To support GLMA’s advocacy to advance LGBTQ+ health equity, consider making a donation today.