A Florida lawmaker pushing to outlaw transgender medical care for minors said he’s not trying to take kids from parents — at least not all of the time.
Florida state Sen. Clay Yarborough, the sponsor for SB 254, said he has spoken to LGBTQ+ advocates about the legislation. While he showed no signs of backing off a push to outlaw gender-affirming care for trans children, he plans to bring an amendment to his bill limiting threats to parents' custody found in the bill initially.
“Parents have the right and a responsibility to raise their children as they see fit, and government intervention should be a last resort,” the Republican lawmaker said in a statement. “I filed this legislation because I believe as lawmakers, we have to draw the line when drastic, life-altering gender dysphoria therapies and surgeries are mutilating young children.”
Gender-affirming health care for transgender people is widely supported by the country's leading medical organizations.
The Florida Senate’s Health Policy Committee will consider the bill on Monday. The amendment will be considered at that time.
But he doesn’t plan to altogether remove any threat to a parent’s custody of a child in the event another parent opposes the care.
“Both parents have a right to be involved in the upbringing of a child,” Yarborough said. “With the exception of extreme circumstances, custody arrangements typically respect the rights of both parents to be involved in major decisions and events in a child’s life. If one parent is attempting to authorize drastic, life-altering gender dysphoria therapies and surgeries that would forever change the life of a young child, and would be illegal under other provisions of this bill, then by all means the other parent should have the ability to have a court review the custody agreement.”
The senator’s amendment would alter Florida’s Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act and allow a judge to change custody agreements to “protect” the child from gender-affirming health care.
“By every measure, children live happier and healthier lives when their parents work together to make important decisions,” Yarborough said.
“This bill gives the court discretion on whether and how to act to protect a child when a parent is subjecting a child to sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures that this bill makes illegal in Florida. Again, both parents have a right to be involved in the upbringing of a child, and one parent should not be able to unilaterally attempt to change the sex of their child.”
It’s unclear if Florida House sponsors will agree to any such adjustment to Yarborough's legislation. Florida Rep. Ralph Massullo, one of the prime sponsors for the companion to Yarborough’s bill, recently called gender-affirming care “child abuse” in a social media post.
Lakey Love,of the Florida Coalition for Transgender Liberation told The Advocate before the amendment was put forward that the original proposal goes further than much legislation she has seen.
“We have a lot of questions as the state moves toward treating this as child abuse,” Love said. “Can the state come at parents for just supporting a child through a transition and becoming who they are?”
When the initial bill was proposed last week, Equality Florida's director of transgender equality ,Nikole Parker said, "Senator Yarborough should be ashamed, and every parent should be alarmed by this dangerous, authoritarian precedent."
Florida under anti-LGBTQ+ Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has targeted LGBTQ+ rights repeatedly, including signing into law the "don't say gay" bill. Lawmakers have proposed several bills targeting LGBTQ+ rights already this legislative session. The session began last week.