Earlier this week, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to suspend all official travel to Florida and Texas over each respective states’ restrictive LGBT policies.
The vote on Tuesday can trace the Board’s decision to actions made by California as far back as 2017. That year, the State Legislature banned non-essential state-funded travel to several states, including Texas, over new LGBT restrictive laws. Texas was included over a new state law that allowed adoption and foster agencies to deny placement to same-sex parents based on religious grounds. Texas subsequently sued and failed to end the ban in 2020. The next year, the passage of AB 1887, a new California law that directs the state to ban travel to a state because they discriminate ‘based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, brought in more state bans including Florida. Florida was specifically added due to them passing a law that prevents transgender girls who are biological males from playing on girls teams.
With California having passed bans on dozens of states and amassing years of precedent to ban travel based on LGBT discrimination, LA County proceeded to follow suit on Tuesday. Florida was chosen primarily because of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis last month signing into law what the media calls the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill. Officially known as the Parental Rights in Education Act, the now law states that “classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate.”
The new law has specifically irked Disney employees and the Disney corporation, with Governor Gavin Newsom calling for all employees to return to California, many workers in Florida walking out in protest of the law, and Governor DeSantis threatening action against Disney in retaliation.
Meanwhile, Texas was also added to LA County’s ban over a February order signed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott that directs Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate parents of transgender teens for child abuse because of gender confirming care. Like the Florida bill, the move sent waves of outrage among the LGBT community and supporters, with both states experiencing walkouts and massive protests.
“A lot of us have been asking for transfers back to California. And I mean a lot of us,” noted an anonymous Disney employee in Florida to the Globe on Thursday. “California is expensive and does have have a bad climate for businesses, but at least they don’t pull things like this and discriminate. I’m already talking with realtors in SoCal. With everything wrong with California, that should tell you how bad the climate is in Florida right now.”
LA County travel bans to Texas, Florida
During the LA County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, Supervisors noted that travel would only be affected for county business that is paid with taxpayer money unless it is determined that such a travel restriction would hurt the county’s interest. The travel ban can also be lifted, but only if either of the new laws in Texas and Florida are suspended.
“As we’ve done in the past where states have enacted some egregious laws that contravene everything that we have done in L.A. County and in California, this motion calls for a travel ban on all travel to these states,” said L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “We’re not gonna spend our money going to your states and it sends a message that we won’t support this egregious behavior. Considering the rampant rise of hate crimes and some pretty egregious conduct by jurisdictions across the country against LGBTQ+ youth and their families, this is not the time to be enacting more legislation designed to encourage more harassment and suffering.”
Supervisor Hilda Solis added that “I too come from a family that has parents whose children are LGBTQ, and I know what it was for them to raise their children and even to talk amongst our own larger family, and how important it is to support each other and in particularly these young people who are trying to live out their their best in life.”
“Florida’s law will perpetuate a culture of bullying, secrecy, shame and fear. Schools should be spaces that foster open discussion, critical thinking, meaningful engagement and the safe exploration of ideas. The implementation of this bill would create an atmosphere that stifles such a culture and stifles learning itself. The Texas order flies in the face of all that we know about best practices when it comes to supporting children and young adults to discover who they are and feel secure in their sense of self. This order is discriminatory, harmful and just plain cruel.”
Passed unanimously, the new travel ban may also be extended to other states in the future, including Ohio, which is currently considering a passing a similar version of Florida’s recently passed bill.
“The bills in Florida and Texas, now laws I guess, just wanted to keep sex education from being taught to those in lower grades and an increase of cases looking into child abuse, respectively,” explained Paul Cole, a lawyer who has assisted in local cases against LGBT oriented laws in three states, to the Globe on Thursday. “But they can also be read as going after the LGBTQ community and restricting their rights too.
“Travel bans really don’t do much. Maybe some people can’t attend a conference there or something. In this age of remote meetings, it’s not all that big. It’s used more for a symbolic gesture, and LA County Supervisors this week gave a clear message where they stand.”
It is currently unknown if any other counties in California will follow LA’s lead on travel bans.
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