Is the Sunshine State Safe for Queer Travelers? Florida LGBTQ+ Advocacy Org Issues Warning

Equality Florida (EF), the state’s largest LGBTQ+ advocacy organization, has issued a travel advisory declaring the Sunshine State may no longer be a safe spot for the queer community to live or visit.  The unprecedented move comes after Republican governor and presumed-presidential candidate Ron DeSantis has made discriminating against — and downright attacking — the queer community a cornerstone of his political agenda.

EF said in a statement that the advisory was prompted after the state passed “laws that are hostile to the LGBTQ+ community, restrict access to reproductive health care, repeal gun safety laws and allows untrained, unpermitted carry, and foment racial prejudice.” EF went on to accuse the governor of weaponizing state agencies to impose sanctions against business large and small that disagree with his “attacks on diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Nadine Smith, EF’s executive director, said in a statement released with the advisory that although the organization has spent decades “working to improve Florida’s reputation as a welcoming and inclusive place to live, work and visit” they could not turn a blind eye to DeSantis’ anti-queer efforts which, sadly, have been largely successful.

Known for saying that Florida is where “woke” goes to die, DeSantis, said Smith, is attempting to dismantle the agency’s work. Particularly disturbing have been DeSantis’ attack on the trans community. He has blocked trans athletes from competing in school sports, signed into law a bill that could out students to their parents, supported the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” legislation, banned queer and race-conscious books from public schools and made it illegal for trans youth to access gender-affirming healthcare. “It is most heartbreaking to hear from parents who are selling their homes and moving because school censorship, book bans and health care restrictions have made their home state less safe for their children.”

The Advocate reported last year that DeSantis “has endorsed some of the most anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in America.” For his part, ABC News said that a spokesperson for DeSantis said of the advisory, “We aren’t going to waste our time worrying about political stunts. We will continue doing what is right for Floridians.”

DeSantis’ hateful, homophobic agenda stands in stark contrast to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s efforts to embrace the state’s queer community. The mother of a queer child, Whitmer has a laundry list of pro-LGBTQ+ efforts to match DeSantis’ list of evil ones. Top of the list, Whitmer signed off last month on an amendment to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act that enshrines protections against LGBTQ+ discrimination into law. This is something she had long promised to do and was made possible when Democrats took control of both branches of the state’s legislature last November.

Whitmer recently spoke to Pride Source about her pro-LGBTQ+ efforts and how they’re good for Michigan.

“I think that states that are living these values are going to be setting themselves up for long-term economic success,” she said. “I think we’re creating paths to prosperity for people in all of this historic investment that we’re growing into Michigan.

“And it’s really important for people to see, getting the state on the right side of this issue is gonna be good for business as well as being the right thing to do,” she continued. “And I think other states are gonna want to emulate what we are doing here.”