Bathroom bill ready for final vote in House
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 1/4/23-Rep. Rachel Saunders Plakon, R-Lake Mary, during the Local Administration, Federal Affairs & Special Districts Subcommittee, Wednesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

Rachel Plakon called limits on who uses gender-designated bathrooms 'common sense.'

A controversial bathroom bill is poised to pass in the House.

During sometimes contentious debate on the floor, Rep. Rachel Plakon, a Lake Mary Republican, called her bill (HB 1521) “common sense.” If passed, it would forbid individuals from using restrooms designated for a sex different from one assigned at birth.

Asked repeatedly about whether this puts the burden of confirming gender on businesses or police, Plakon repeatedly stated it would be unnecessary if individuals simply follow the law.

“I have several news articles where women have been assaulted in the restroom by biological male and follow them in,” Plakon said. “I believe this is a good law.”

But she dismissed concerns that this would make it impossible for transgender people to simply use the bathroom.

Democrats pressed Plakon on the impact the legislation has on anyone whose gender identity doesn’t align with their birth certificate.

“Is there a concern that a trans kid is not going to be able to pee because they don’t feel comfortable going to the bathroom that might reflect the gender identity that they were assigned at birth versus when they express today?” asked Rep. Anna Eskamani, an Orlando Democrat. “Has there ever been any thought to what a trans kid or adult what their options are in that situation?”

Plakon said plainly no, that wasn’t a consideration in crafting the bill.

But through the legislative process, a number of exemptions have been included in the bill. Those include provisions allowing adults to accompany younger minors to the restroom to assist them. An amendment passed in committee would provide protections for those born intersex. Plakon noted there are only an average of three intersex children born in Florida each year.

When it comes to consequences, the bill would make a bathroom violation a misdemeanor. Plakon said the first enforcement would rely on other individuals in a restroom asking people of a different gender to leave.

Democrats questioned the practicality of applying the law.

“If I accuse you of being trans and you don’t leave, I don’t understand how that is enforced,” said Rep. Rita Harris, an Orlando Democrat. “Who comes to you and tells you that you’re arrested? And who keeps you there until the police get there to tell you that you’re arrested?”

Democrats also questioned whether disputes would ever reach the point of demanding genital inspections, though Plakon said an ID card should resolve matters quickly.

Plakon frequently said this won’t be a problem if people simply leave when asked.

“Most of the time they will leave unless they have a disregard for the law,” she said. If someone resists law enforcement, then it’s left to police officers to handle the situation.

Democrats filed a number of proposed changes to the bill on the floor.

Rep. Michele Raynor-Goolsby, a St. Petersburg Democrat and member of the LGBTQ community, suggested only applying the law when children were in restroom facilities. Rep. Marie Woodson, a Hollywood Democrat, proposed anti-bullying language.

Rep. Johanna López, an Orlando Democrat, wanted language to reduce bad faith claims alleged against individuals.

“This view will hurt transgender and gender non-conforming Floridians and tourists if we don’t at least clarify the language,” she said. “We should be protecting our constituents from discrimination.”

But Rep. Spencer Roach, a North Fort Myers Republican, questioned who would decide on what would constitute “bad faith.”

Republicans shot down all proposed amendments.

Woodson said the bill as it reads now would put Florida law at odds with a number of federal provisions.

The bill is now poised for a vote the next time it comes to the floor.

But companion legislation in the Senate (SB 1674) remains in the committee stages. Carried by Sen. Erin Grall, a Vero Beach Republican, the Senate bill cleared the Senate Rules Committee on a 15-4 vote but awaits a hearing in the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Acid Head Ed AkA Mercury Ed

    April 18, 2023 at 12:21 pm

    God forbid Republicans pass legislation to improve the lives of as many people as possible, secure living wages, and provide Florida’s people with services that help people get ahead. Instead, bathroom bills? Death penalty for more crimes and ever increasing penalties for everything else? Banning books and social studies? These empty suits are just putting on some right wing clown show for rural sub-apes. What kind of government is this? It’s a fraud!

  • PeterH

    April 18, 2023 at 12:35 pm

    This bill is ridiculous in so many ways. In a women’s restroom ALL OF THE TOILET SPACES ARE ENCLOSED LOCKABLE PRIVATE STALLS…….there are no semi private public urinals. For health and safety concerns, many public restrooms today have airport style entry and exits WITHOUT DOORS OF ANY KIND!

    This is another example of Ron DeSantis / Legislator’s culture wars..

    The New York Times had an excellent article on this concerted Republican red state campaign to disenfranchise Americans. What an national and international embarrassment!

  • MadisonP.

    April 21, 2023 at 12:47 am

    This is jus ridiculous!!!! I’m not even trans but I feel so bad and sad for what the LGBTQ+ is going through in Florida I’ll not visit the state until things change I guess I’ll have to go to universal studios Hollywood now I’ll not spend my money on that hateful state

    • MadisonP

      April 21, 2023 at 12:50 am


Comments are closed.


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