Ron DeSantis

Ron DeSantis

46th Governor of Florida

—Backed the Florida Department of Education’s advice to schools to disregard proposed federal guidelines that protect transgender youth. Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. told superintendents, school boards, private school owners, and charter school governing boards they have “no obligation” to follow the Title IX equity rules laid out by the Biden administration which seek to reinstate regulations tossed out by the Trump administration. The regulations include protections from discrimination based on gender identity as well as sexual orientation. Diaz’s memo said schools should not “modify your practices or procedures based on these documents,” and warned against allowing transgender students to use facilities including bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity. It also directed schools to disallow transgender children from playing in sports or staying in rooms on class trips with students who align with their gender identity. The memo described the Biden administration regulations as “sexual ideology.” 

Lied about gender affirming care in interview on Fox News: “They will actually take a young boy and castrate the boy. They will take a young girl and do a mastectomy, or they will sterilize her because of the gender dysphoria. There is no evidence that this is something that's effective medical care.” Longstanding best practices medical care for trans youth does not include surgeries or sterilization on young children. Every major medical association supports gender affirming care as evidence-based, lifesaving care, with growing and consistent research that it improves mental health and wellbeing for transgender and nonbinary youth.  A June 2022 poll found that a majority of voters in Florida (54%) agree transgender minors should have access to gender affirming care if recommended by their doctor and/or supported by their parents, while one-fifth feel that they should have access to this care regardless (21%).

—After losing in the legislature to make gender affirming care illegal, directed state agencies to issue guidance to begin to strip Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming care, despite the fact that it is supported by every major medical association

Targeted small business owner hosting drag brunch, using state agencies to harass and threaten R House, a restaurant and lounge in Miami. The Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco at the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation filed the complaint, citing a 1947 law against "men impersonating women." 

Condemned the Walt Disney Company as too cozy with communist China, following Disney chief executive, Bob Chapek’s acknowledgement of error in staying silent on Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation and subsequent public opposition to the legislation which DeSantis is expected to sign into law. Chapek’s online statement also emailed to staffers said Disney was wrong to stay silent as the Republican-majority Florida legislature passed a bill he called “yet another challenge to basic human rights.” Disney also said it would suspend political donations in the state. DeSantis, who is running for reelection in 2022 and is a potential frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, sent a fundraising email that read: “Disney is in far too deep with the communist party of China and has lost any moral authority to tell you what to do.”

—DeSantis’s press secretary, Christina Pushaw, libeled opponents of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill as sexual predators. On Twitter, Pushaw wrote: “The bill that liberals inaccurately call ‘Don’t Say Gay’ would be more accurately described as Anti-Grooming Bill.” Pushaw added, “If you’re against the anti-Grooming bill, you are probably a groomer or at least you don’t denounce the grooming of 4- to 8-year-old children. Silence is complicity. This is how it works, Democrats, and I didn’t make the rules.” Sexual grooming is a preparatory process in which a perpetrator gradually gains a person’s or organization’s trust with the intent to be sexually abusive. Claiming, despite evidence to the contrary, that gay people are pedophiles, is a long-used scapegoating tactic by religious fundamentalists around the globe, and is a tactic used by Russian President Vladimir Putin to garner support for his gay “propaganda” ban.

Defended the anti-LGBTQ “don’t say gay” bill, and lied about the contents of the legislation saying that it was about “no sexual instruction” given to young students and “transgenderism or something injected into classroom instruction.” He continued, “It’s basically saying for our younger students, do you really want them being taught about sex? And this is any sexual stuff. But I think clearly right now, we see a focus on transgenderism, telling kids they may be able to pick genders and all of that.” In fact, the bill prohibits school districts from encouraging “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels” which is distinct from “sexual instruction” as DeSantis claims. The Trevor Project research shows LGBTQ students who learned about LGBTQ issues or people at school had 23% lower odds of reporting a suicide attempt in the past year. 

Took down a Department of Education website that supplied educators, parents, and students with anti-bullying resources. The page featured links to federal government anti-bullying initiatives (stopbullying.gov), information on creating safe spaces for LGBTQ young people to receive support from school staff, and additional information from national leaders in combating mental health crises and suicidality among LGBTQ students.

Signed a restrictive transgender youth sports ban into law, on the first day of LGBTQ Pride Month. The law bans transgender girls and women in public secondary schools and colleges in Florida from participating on girls’ and women’s sports teams. 

Vetoed all funding for LGBTQ programs from the $101 billion state budget, including $150,000 for mental health programming to support survivors of the Pulse Massacre and $750,000 to house homeless LGBTQ children, as well as funds for Orlando's LGBTQ Community Center. The veto came during LGBTQ Pride Month and just days before the fifth anniversary of the 2016 mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub, one of the worst in United States history which targeted Central Florida’s LGBTQ and LatinX Communities, claiming the lives of 49 people.

Signed an anti-discrimination order for state employees that excludes protections for LGBTQ people. Signed just hours after DeSantis was sworn into office, the order pledges that his administration will prohibit discrimination in employment based on “age, sex, race, color, religion, national origin, marital status or disability” for government employees and contractors. The order does not include protctions based on “sexual orientation” or “gender identity.”

The GLAAD Accountability Project catalogs anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and discriminatory actions of politicians, commentators, organization heads, religious leaders, and legal figures, who have used their platforms, influence and power to spread misinformation and harm LGBTQ people.