State Watch

Florida transgender bathroom bill passes committee

Transgender people could be jailed if they don’t use the bathrooms associated with their sex at birth, according to a new bill in the Florida legislature which passed a key Senate committee Thursday.

Senate Bill 1674 would make it a misdemeanor for an adult to refuse to immediately leave a restroom “designated for the opposite sex” when “asked to do so by another person present in the restroom.” Penalties would be up to 60 days in jail or $500 fine.

The bill is the latest of a series of measures from Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and the Florida legislature that advocates say are meant to discriminate against the LGBTQ community. Similar legislation has already been passed in other GOP-controlled states.

On Tuesday, the Kentucky legislature overrode their governor’s veto of a measure preventing schools from allowing students to use bathrooms other than the one associated with their sex assigned at birth, among a slew of other issues.

The Florida bill defines female as a “person belonging, at birth, to the biological sex which has the specific reproductive role of producing eggs” and defines male as “a person belonging, at birth, to the biological sex which has the specific reproductive role of producing sperm.”

It has faced backlash from LGBTQ advocates and Democrats. Some in the committee called the bill too vague and a government overreach.

“Some of the calls (from my constituents) I got said, ‘Are you really instituting a potty police?’ Enforcement of it creates problems, and I think the enforcement needs to be clear,” said Sen. Darryl Rouson, a Democrat.

The committee also passed a second measure which would revoke the licenses of businesses which allow minors to attend drag shows. That provision is similar to one passed in Tennessee earlier this month.

The bill defines an “adult performance” as “any show, exhibition, or other presentation that is performed in front of a live audience and in whole or in part, depicts or simulates nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, specific sexual activities, … lewd conduct, or the lewd exposure of prosthetic or imitation genitals or breasts.”

Bill sponsor Sen. Clay Yarborough, a Republican, said the measure is designed to protect kids.

“Parents have the right to raise their children as they see fit, and government intervention should be a last resort,” Yarborough said in committee. “As lawmakers, we have a responsibility to protect children from viewing lewd conduct that is patently offensive to prevailing standards in our communities.”

Both bills passed the committee on party lines and now head to the full Senate.

Tags Florida LGBTQ rights Ron DeSantis Ron DeSantis trans rights

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