TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, the Senate voted to pass Senate Bill 1438 (SB 1438), a bill that grants state agencies the power to target LGBTQ+ friendly businesses by giving the Department of Business and Professional Regulation discretionary authority to fine, revoke liquor licenses, and even shut down establishments. Additionally, it makes it a crime to admit young people to any performance, exhibit, play, or show that the state deems inappropriate, even if the child’s parents think it is appropriate for their family.
The ACLU of Florida opposes this bill and its companion bill, House Bill 1423.
Kara Gross, ACLU of Florida’s legislative director and senior policy counsel, responded to today's vote with the following:
“Parents, not politicians, have the right to decide how to raise their children and what they are allowed to view. This harmful bill effectively revokes the rights of parents to determine what content is appropriate for their own families, even their teenagers. As if book bans and curriculum censorship weren’t enough, the Florida Legislature is now imposing its views on parents and families at the cost of LGBTQ+ people.
“Make no mistake: SB 1438 is a blatant attempt to erase drag performers and silence the LGBTQ+ community.
“The unclear and vaguely worded bill will impact businesses and venues that host plays, musical performances, art exhibits, and other forms of expression that the state may subjectively deem inappropriate. Will parents be able to take their families to the opera if there are singers performing in roles that require cross-dressing? What about Shakespeare performances? Furthermore, all it would take is a teen with a fake ID for a business owner to lose everything. We have grave concerns that businesses may end up self-censoring rather than running afoul of the law and risk losing their license or becoming entangled with the criminal legal system.
“With this bill, Gov. DeSantis and certain politicians are imposing their personal beliefs on Floridians by punishing private businesses that support the LGBTQ+ community. The Governor likes to tout that he is ‘pro-businesses,’ but this bill is anything but that. This is an extreme governmental overreach of power. This is not democracy. This is not freedom.”