Editorial | In light of new anti-LGBTQ laws, skip your summer vacation to Florida

Florida House Bill 1521 will go into effect beginning July 1 of this year, banning anyone from using a bathroom that does not match their biological sex at birth. Anyone found guilty of entering the bathroom of the “opposite sex” in Florida may receive trespassing charges for up to a year in prison.

The bill defines the sexes as males — “a person belonging, at birth, to the biological sex which has the specific reproductive role of producing sperm” — and females — “a person belonging, at birth, to the biological sex which has the specific reproductive role of producing eggs.” It also outlines that sex is determined by sex chromosomes, sex hormones, and external genitalia.

This means that someone could only prove their biological sex by submitting DNA testing or proof of their own genitalia — an egregious breach of privacy. 

The Florida house bill is not the first of its kind — Ron DeSantis has recently signed many new bills intended to target queer people. From banning access to gender-affirming healthcare to prohibiting education on gender and sexual orientation until high school, Florida continues to chip away at what little safety queer people had in the state.

Tampa Pride on the River, an annual gay Pride celebration in Tampa Bay, canceled their celebration after DeSantis signed Florida Senate Bill 1438. This effectively banned organizations from admitting minors to drag shows — which the bill misleadingly refers to as “adult live performances.” Because Tampa Pride features drag queens in public, the organizers preemptively canceled the event because it could constitute a violation of the new law.

In response to the onslaught of anti-LGBTQ laws, Equality Florida released a travel advisory warning for queer groups, recommending they avoid visiting the state for their own safety. The NAACP followed suit this month, releasing their own advisory for people of color and LGBTQ individuals to be aware of the state’s politics.

Florida is a very popular vacation spot for students, given its many beaches and famous amusement parks, but as the state shows more and more pushback against its queer residents, it may be best to find an alternative destination.

Groups who are not at risk as a result of these new laws can still show solidarity against Florida’s political path by refusing to contribute to its tourism or public image. And we say “not at risk” lightly — while the new bathroom bill targets trans people, cis men and women may still have to prove their biological sex if questioned.

There are many other equally, if not more, exciting vacation destinations outside of Florida, many of which are in states that celebrate inclusivity rather than fostering hatred.