Bathroom bill passes on party lines in House

gender neutral bathrooms
Sponsor Rachel Plakon said legislation will codify what boys and girls learn in kindergarten.

The House has passed restrictions on where transgender people can use the restroom in Florida. But it’s unclear what path lays forward in the Senate.

Legislation (HB 1521) dubbed “Facility Requirements based on Sex” cleared the House on a party-line vote, 82-32.

Rep. Rachel Plakon, a Lake Mary Republican, pushed back on characterizations of the bill as anti-LGBTQ.

“This bill never mentions ‘transgender’ or any other particular group of people,” the bill sponsor said. “When we named this bill, the safety and private spaces act, we were trying to capture the intent and effect of this bill in just a few words.”

She said the bill makes exceptions for intersex individuals and other appropriate exceptions.

But the bill has sparked outrage. She alluded to violence seen just yesterday, which included individuals dumping panties with political messages onto the House floor, requiring the gallery to be cleaned.

None of that is warranted, she said, for a bill that just codifies what now is left to courtesy.

“This bill simply codifies what has been part of our culture and tradition since 1887, what we all learned in kindergarten,” she said, “that boys use the boys’ room, and girls use the girls’ room.”

But Democrats saw the bill as targeting transgender Floridians. The legislation, if passed, would require people, when faced with bathrooms designated by gender, to use the facilities with the gender assigned at birth, not their gender identity.

“This bill does not respect all Floridians,” said Rep. Michele Rayner-Goolsby, a St. Petersburg Democrat and the only lesbian in the Legislature.

She said the bill violated decency and the most basic right of individuals to simply use the bathroom free of harassment.

“You don’t have to like or understand how somebody shows up,” she said. “But what you have to do is respect them and treat them with humanity. And this bill — not allowing someone the simple basic human function of using the restroom, literally stripping them of their dignity to use the bathroom — it is the lowest of the low.”

Rep. Kristen Arrington, a Kissimmee Democrat, turned to an economic argument. She noted when North Carolina passed similar bathroom restrictions in 2017, it prompted a national boycott and directly led to the Republican Governor’s defeat in his re-election bid.

“An analysis by The Associated Press predicted North Carolina would lose more than $3.76 billion and nearly 3,000 jobs over the next dozen years as a direct result of this legislation,” she said of the North Carolina bill, which was ultimately repealed.

But Rep. Dean Black, a Jacksonville Republican, said the debate was much ado about nothing, and that bathrooms have been separated by sex since time immemorial.

“Women — and men for that matter — will have their privacy respected,” he said. “And women will also find that the toilet seat will remain in its proper down position.”

A Senate companion bill (SB 1674) has cleared one committee but awaits a vote by the Fiscal Policy Committee there.

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].


  • Far Right Adelbert 👍

    April 19, 2023 at 4:48 pm

    More phoney baloney religious political theatre. Keep the religion out of the bathroom. Never heard of a trans man or woman bother anyone in a restroom. Just passing laws for fkn nothing. Just to make it look like they’re governing.

  • Rebecca

    April 19, 2023 at 6:13 pm

    I’m predicting that people will largely ignore this “law” or commit civil disobedience. If anything, there’s going to be outrage if the AG does anything monumentally crazy.

Comments are closed.


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