What’s Up With the Florida Travel Warnings?

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FloridaA trio of advocacy groups have gone public with warnings for people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals traveling to Florida.

On May 20, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) issued a travel advisory on the state, stating, “Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals. Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color.”

The NAACP said the warning “comes in direct response to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ aggressive attempts to erase Black history and to restrict diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in Florida schools.”

NAACP President & CEO Derrick Johnson said that under DeSantis, “the state of Florida has become hostile to Black Americans and in direct conflict with the democratic ideals that our union was founded upon.”

Other Travel Warnings

The NAACP advisory comes on the heels of similar warnings issued by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and Equality Florida, a statewide gay rights advocacy group.

LULAC cited DeSantis’ recent crackdown on illegal immigration, warning Latino travelers on May 18 that they risk being racially profiled and possibly detained by the state’s law enforcement officials.

Equality Florida went even further in its April 11 warning, telling LGBTQ travelers and those considering moving to Florida that they face risks to their health, safety and freedom.

DeSantis has signed laws barring educators from discussing sexual orientation, banning gender-affirming care for LGBTQ youth and measures seeking to codify gender-specific restrooms, and restricting drag shows. He framed the anti-LGBTQ bills as “legislation to protect the innocence of Florida’s children.”

“As the world goes mad, Florida represents a refuge of sanity and a citadel of normalcy,” he said in signing the measures on May 17.

“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’s 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.”

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