For Immediate Release: April 12, 2023
Brandon Wolf ; Press Secretary
Equality Florida Issues Advisory Warning For Travel
ST. PETERSBURG, FL -- Today, Equality Florida took the extraordinary step of issuing a travel advisory, warning of the risks posed to the health, safety, and freedom of those considering short or long term travel, or relocation to the state. The move comes in response to a wave of safety inquiries Equality Florida has received following the passage of laws that are hostile to the LGBTQ community, restrict access to reproductive health care, repeal gun safety laws, foment racial prejudice, and attack public education by banning books and censoring curriculum. The full travel advisory can be found here.
“As an organization that has spent decades working to improve Florida’s reputation as a welcoming and inclusive place to live work and visit, it is with great sadness that we must respond to those asking if it is safe to travel to Florida or remain in the state as the laws strip away basic rights and freedoms,” said Nadine Smith, Equality Florida Executive Director. “While losing conferences, and top students who have written off Florida threatens lasting damage to our state, it is most heartbreaking to hear from parents who are selling their homes and moving because school censorship, book bans and health care restrictions have made their home state less safe for their children. We understand everyone must weigh the risks and decide what is best for their safety, but whether you stay away, leave or remain we ask that you join us in countering these relentless attacks. Help reimagine and build a Florida that is truly safe for and open to all, and where freedom is a reality, not a hollow campaign slogan.”
Governor Ron DeSantis, who has made the extremist policies the centerpiece of his presidential campaign strategy, has weaponized state agencies to silence critics and impose sanctions on large and small companies that dissent with his culture war agenda or disagree with his attacks on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Already, the adopted and proposed policies detailed in the travel advisory have led Florida parents to consider relocating, prospective students to cross Florida colleges and universities off their lists, events and conferences to cancel future gatherings, and the United States military to offer redeployment for service members whose families are now unsafe in the state. Businesses have spoken out against the governor’s abuse of state power to punish dissent, with Disney CEO Bob Iger calling DeSantis “anti-business and anti-Florida.” The worsening attacks, especially those targeting transgender youth, have also led to the proposal of policies around the country to provide refuge for those fleeing states like Florida.
The Florida Immigrant Coalition, a statewide immigrant rights coalition of 65 member organizations and over 100 allies, also issued a travel advisory today, urging reconsideration of travel to Florida and providing critical information about where immigrant travelers can learn more about their constitutional rights. And just weeks ago, Florida chapters of the NAACP voted unanimously to request similar warnings to the Black community about the risk of traveling or relocating to the state.
Equality Florida is the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community. Through education, grassroots organizing, coalition building, and lobbying, we are changing Florida so that no one suffers harassment or discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.