More than 100 bills filed on first day of session

Photo courtesy: Kyla Hill

Florida’s 2023 legislative session got underway Tuesday, and lawmakers wasted no time teeing up prospective legislation. More than one hundred bills from the House and Senate combined were filed.

Some of the most controversial topics to be discussed during the 60-day session are women’s and LGBTQ+ rights.

Activist groups like Equality Florida Action have deemed Florida Republicans transphobic, especially since they have proposed bills to eliminate the use of preferred pronouns in public schools.

Senate Bill 1320, which is named “Child Protection in Public Schools,” will prohibit employees, contractors or students in public schools from referring to a person “using personal titles or pronouns that do not correspond with that person’s sex.”

The bill will ban teachers from teaching students about sexual orientation until grade nine. The Department of Education must approve any materials used to teach reproductive health.

According to WFTS Tampa Bay, Florida House Speaker Paul Renner asked the superintendent of Hillsborough County Schools for information about “age-inappropriate” books in school libraries in the aftermath of  Juno Dawson’s “This Book is Gay” making the rounds on social media.

“These books have no place in our school system due to their graphic depiction of sexual conduct and step-by-step instructions of how to access digital sex apps on the internet,” Renner said in a February statement.

Currently, Florida law bans abortion procedures after 15 weeks. However, Florida lawmakers hope to ban abortions after six weeks with Senate Bill 300, filed Tuesday by Republican Sen. Erin Grall of Vero Beach. There is a corresponding House Bill to SB 300, which is House Bill 7, filed by Republican Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka of Fort Myers. The two bills are called “Pregnancy and parenting support.”

Both bills do have exceptions for cases if the pregnancy results from incest or rape, if the mother is facing serious injury or death, and if the fetus has a fatal abnormality.

This legislation will require that all medication needed for medical abortions must be distributed in person by a physician, thereby “prohibiting the dispensing of such medication through the United States Postal Service or any other courier or shipping service, etc.”

According to the Tallahassee Democrat, Gov. Ron DeSantis has said that he would support the legislation. “We’re pro-life. I urge the Legislature to work, produce good stuff, and we will sign,” he said during a Feb. 1 news conference in response to a question about whether he would support a six-week ban on abortions.