The largest and oldest civil rights organization in the United States has issued a formal counseling warn travelers that Florida that the state is “openly hostile” to black people, colored and LGBTQ+ people.
An advice issued by NAACP on May 20 comes in response to a series of laws signed by Florida’s Republican governor Ron DeSantis focused on classroom education around race and racism, gender and sexuality, and legislative and administration policy directed at LGBT+ people.
“Let me be clear – failing to teach an accurate representation of the horrors and inequities that black Americans have faced and continue to face is a disservice to students and a dereliction of duty to all,” said NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson in a statement.
“Under the leadership of Governor Desantis, the state of Florida has become hostile to black Americans and in direct conflict with the democratic ideals upon which our state was founded,” he added.
“He should know that democracy will prevail because its defenders are prepared to stand up and fight. We are not backing down, and we encourage our allies to join us in the fight for our nation’s soul.”
The advisory states that “because of this persistent, blatant, relentless and systemic attack on democracy and civil rights, the NAACP is hereby issuing a travel advisory to African Americans and others of color regarding the hostility toward African Americans in Florida.”
On May 17, Gov. DeSantis approved a list of bills that restrict gender-affirming care for minors, threaten drag shows, ban people from using bathrooms that match their gender identity, and prevent people from using their chosen pronouns in schools.
The legislation also follows administrative policy direction affirms health care for trans youth, over objections from major health organizations and LGBT+ advocates.
Mr. DeSantis also recently expanded a measure labeled by opponents as the “Don’t Say Gay” law to ban classroom teaching on issues related to gender and sexuality, which critics say will have a disheartening effect on LGBT+ people in schools as part of an effort to erase LGBT+ people from public life.
Mr. DeSantis, who is reportedly preparing to launch his campaign for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, has also led a series of measures around honest discussions about race and racism in schools, including a law blocking public spending on diversity, equity and inclusion.
Florida is also on the center of a nationwide trend of challenges to books and materials in libraries and schools. This week, Penguin Random House and several prominent authors and families filed a federal lawsuit against a school district where activists have challenged dozens of books, largely involving or written by people of color or LGBT+ people.
In April, the advocacy group Equality Florida issued a similar travel notice who warned that the state might “not be a safe place to visit or settle”.
“As an organization that has spent decades working to enhance Florida’s reputation as a welcoming and inclusive place to live and visit, it is with great sadness that we must respond to those who ask if it is safe to travel to Florida or stay remain in the state. because the laws take away basic rights and freedoms,” according to a statement from Nadine Smith, Equality Florida’s executive director.
The independent has requested a comment from the governor’s office.