Ron DeSantis Dismisses Florida Warning for Black and LGBTQ+ Visitors as a ‘Stunt'

Ron DeSantis Dismisses Florida Warning for Black and LGBTQ+ Visitors as a ‘Stunt'
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Steven Ferdman

Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis has publicly disregarded travel warnings issued by civil rights organizations, including the country's largest LGBTQ advocacy group, the Human Rights Campaign, in a move that has drawn criticism around the country. 

Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Steven Ferdman
Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Steven Ferdman

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The Human Rights Campaign and Equality Florida jointly released the alert, which emphasizes the dangers of visiting or residing in Florida and lists several recent laws that were recently approved during the legislature session. The warning is directed primarily at immigrants, minorities, and LGBTQ people who experience prejudice and negative consequences from these policies.

These advisories have received a dismissive response from Governor DeSantis, who is widely anticipated to announce his presidential campaign soon. He has referred to them as "political stunts." In a recent email response to the warnings, Jeremy Redfern, DeSantis' press secretary, said, "We aren’t going to waste time on political stunts but will continue doing what is right for Floridians."



In an interview with DeSantis, Norah O'Donnell, the managing editor and host of CBS Evening News questioned whether everyone would feel welcome in a country run by DeSantis. The Pink News reports that DeSantis confidently responded, "One hundred percent," rejecting the NAACP's warning as a cynical political ploy. "[the NAACP’s warning] is politics, that is a stunt. They obviously have a very left-wing agenda, which I don’t begrudge them.” 

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DeSantis also asserted that Florida's unemployment numbers for African Americans are significantly lower than those in some states with Democratic governors. He emphasized how more Black-owned businesses and Black kids are receiving scholarships in Florida. “We have shown people can succeed in Florida, regardless of their race, ethnicity, any of that. We will judge people as individuals, we want people to rise based on their merit,” he said, per CBS News.


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But the issues brought up by civil rights organizations go much beyond empty political rhetoric. They are a result of several regulations that Florida recently passed that specifically target transgender people and the larger LGBTQ+ community. Out of the 12 pieces of legislation that Republican lawmakers submitted, four have already become law.

These measures forbid minors from attending "adult live performances," compel the use of public restrooms that correspond to a person's given sex at birth, and restrict gender-affirming care for both children and adults. They also limit the use of preferred pronouns in educational institutions and broaden Florida's Parents Right statute, also known as the "Don't Say Gay" bill.

According to Kelley Robinson, president of the Human Rights Campaign, "Because of Ron DeSantis and his frenzied appeal to extremists, LGBTQ+ people in Florida are finding themselves in a state of emergency every single day." "Since the day he took office, Governor DeSantis has weaponized his position to weave bigotry, hate, and discrimination into public law for his political gain."



Other civil rights organizations have joined the chorus of worry as a result of the travel warnings issued against Florida. The NAACP and the League of United Latin American Citizens have warned of Florida's "open hostility" towards Black and Latino communities, citing several policies that target diversity, equity, and inclusion programs at public universities, censor accurate teachings of American history, and increase the state's power to restrict or ban particular books.

The Florida Immigrant Coalition expressed its worries last month when Equality Florida first released its advice, highlighting the possible dangers faced by minorities and immigrants who were considering moving to or traveling to Florida. Florida, which is well-known for its sunshine and thriving tourism sector, is currently the focal point of a developing controversy. Despite the warnings, the state continues to draw a large number of tourists each year; more than 137.5 million people visited the state last year alone, exceeding pre-pandemic levels, per USA Today. With visitors spending close to $99 billion in 2019, Florida's tourism industry, which is a key component of the state's economy, contributed significantly to the state's GDP.

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