Florida’s state legislature approved a flurry of anti-“woke” bills on Wednesday, banning college diversity programs and preventing schools from being required to use pronouns that don’t correspond to one’s sex.
As Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R-FL) readies his expected presidential campaign, the Republican supermajorities in the state House and Senate ushered through a handful of proposals seemingly designed to bolster his 2024 platform.
One of them, the “Safety In Private Spaces Act,” would make it a misdemeanor for someone to use a bathroom that doesn’t align with their assigned-at-birth sex.
“There’s not anything in the language of this bill that is targeting any specific group,” state Sen. Erin Grall (R-Fort Pierce), who introduced the bathroom bill, claimed on the floor. “Rather, it speaks to the differences that we have as different sexes, as male and female.”
DeSantis is expected to announce his run in the 2024 presidential election at the end of Florida’s legislative session, so he’s spent at least the last year on headline-inducing legislation to manufacture culture wars and court Trump supporters from the former president’s reelection campaign.
Thus far, he’s tried to ban classroom instruction on “woke” topics like gender identity and African American Studies, as well as attacked diversity, equity and inclusion programs in colleges and universities.
The Republican-controlled state house has pushed through bills that bolster his expected 2024 bid—often at the expense of Republicans’ own legislative priorities. Thanks to another bill approved by the legislature last week, he can still act as governor while running for head of state.
State Democrats have criticized the governor for using the legislature to score political points. That sentiment reemerged on Wednesday, as they were powerless to stop the bills from being approved.
“You have no idea what you’re doing here because you can’t think past your hatred,” state Rep. Kelly Skidmore (D-Boca Raton) said on the floor, “and you can’t think past your discrimination.”