Parents Sue as Fla. Gov. DeSantis Signs Major Legislation With “Let Kids Be Kids” Law, Prohibiting Children From Adult Events, Gender Surgery, and Parental Rights Controlled by the State.

Dozens of activists stage a sit-in outside Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' office and force people to step over them to reach DeSantis' office as they speak out against the governor and his policies. (Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat via AP) Photo Source: Dozens of activists stage a sit-in outside Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' office and force people to step over them to reach DeSantis' office as they speak out against the governor and his policies. (Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat via AP)

A hefty, throwback bill package in Florida that harkens in spirit to the1950s was signed by Governor Rick DeSantis this week, with the administration promising to “protect Florida’s children from permanent mutilating surgical procedures, gender identity politics in schools, and attending sexually explicit adult performances.”

The so-called “sweeping” set of new restrictive laws, signed by DeSantis, is being called a violation of civil rights, and a lawsuit is already filed, since the day after the passage of the bill.

An angry group of parents with transgender children challenged “Let Kids Be Kids" and filed an emergency request in Federal court to block its activation. As stated in the complaint, “Among other things, SB 254 creates Florida Statute § 456.52(1), which prohibits medical providers from providing well-established treatment for gender dysphoria to transgender adolescents. SB 254 makes it a third degree felony for any health care practitioner who provides the prohibited medical care.”

The complaint states that the new law “infringes upon Plaintiffs’ constitutionally protected rights to make medical decisions for their children (Parent Plaintiffs) and to equal protection under the law in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Defendants are unable to justify the infringement upon Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights that would arise from enforcement of SB 254.”

Dissenters of “Let Kids Be Kids” laws say the legislation is a religious-influenced return to pre-feminist and pre-equal rights laws that tighten numerous legal rights for children and parents in medical care, create a dramatic censorship of free speech in schools, and impose new attendance laws that prohibit minors at public adult events.

Referring to his disapproval of the new bill, Florida Democratic State Senator Shevrin Jones said, “They have cloaked themselves in being the party of less government and parental rights, and what we’re seeing now is the total opposite. Every other parent has the right to raise their child the way that they want to as long as your child is not gay, trans, bisexual. That’s freedom for some parents but not for all parents.”

“Let Kids be Kids” is comprehensive in its bundling of numerous once-legal procedures and realities for Florida families, with an overarching theme of dialing back the clock in Florida’s schools and public events back to the 1950s.

The bill says it is designed to keep Florida children free from “indoctrinating and confusing concepts like gender identity, forced pronouns, and males competing in women’s sports.” Note that the word “males” is used in the Governor’s legislation, since Florida does not legally recognize the word “trans” in their state now. (SB 254)

Under this array of restrictive laws, no minor is allowed to have “mutilating surgical procedures” and “experimental blockers.” Both treatments are used in cases where children identify as the opposite sex and want to change their gender. If anyone defies this law, the state now has the option to “recover damages for injury or death resulting from mutilating surgeries, or experimental puberty blockers to a minor,” according to SB 254.

What the law does not address is the reality that numerous minors have undergone such gender surgeries and usage of puberty blockers, and still rely upon ongoing medical and mental health treatments to remain safe. There is no provision for the treatment of patients who have already completed their surgery or are on puberty blockers, so their necessary, ongoing treatment is not legal under this bill.

This law also impacts adults who may want to undergo sexual gender surgery and states that any adult who seeks such medical interventions must be warned about “irreversible dangers” of the “surgeries and hormones” used for these treatments. This mandatory “warning” now mandated by the new law follows a similar “warning” that was used in abortion clinics when it was legal to have the procedure in Florida.

Next on the sexual gender restrictions section, aka the “pronoun politics” area, is the law (HB 1069) that makes it illegal for anyone to be “forced” to use pronouns other than male or female.

Simultaneously, this legislation states that parental rights will now be “expanded” so that children will be prohibited in the classroom from learning about any sexual identity or gender identity from grades kindergarten through 8. This newest portion of the bill expands the 2022 law that only applied to children in grades K-3 since it now extends to 8th-grade students.

Another segment of the bill is called “Protecting Children’s Innocence” and makes it illegal to have any minors in any adult venues, naming in particular “drag clubs and strip clubs.” According to HB 1438, any “hotel or restaurant” allowing minors into an event that features adult performances will be “subject” to losing their licenses. Can a theatre still include children as guests if the play has some light sexual innuendos?

The hit songs of the litany of new legal restrictions include a bill that is “ensuring the protection of women,” who cannot, according to Florida law, feel safe if a man uses a bathroom in the same place as a woman.

By virtue of Florida’s HB 1251, every changing room, locker room, and bathroom must now offer a separate room for males and females, which are the only genders that now officially exist in Florida. One has to wonder how the small mom-and-pop restaurants will manage since many only have the space for one bathroom. Perhaps, in Florida, the men will “take it outside” to do their business?

Lastly, in this rigid list of prohibitions aimed at public speech or gender equality, the new bill reinforces the laws to protect prayer in schools, yet also states it “protects the right to free speech,” which is alarming, given last year’s “Don’t Say Gay” law that seemingly prohibits classroom discussion on gender identity, sexual orientation and other LGBTQ+ issues.

Currently, the right-wing trend to pass bills prohibiting the acceptance of any LGBTQ+ residents is growing in Republican-led states. Human Rights Campaign reports that as of today, over 500 bills impacting the LGBTQ+ community have been enacted already, with more to follow.

Diane Lilli
Diane Lilli
Diane Lilli is an award-winning Journalist, Editor, and Author with over 18 years of experience contributing to New Jersey news outlets, both in print and online. Notably, she played a pivotal role in launching the first daily digital newspaper, Jersey Tomato Press, in 2005. Her work has been featured in various newspapers, journals, magazines, and literary publications across the nation. Diane is the proud recipient of the Shirley Chisholm Journalism Award.
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