The NAACP warns Black Americans against traveling to Florida following Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signing of a bill defunding diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives at the state’s public institutions and colleges.
DeSantis contends the legislation he signed last week would guarantee that “Florida’s institutions encourage diversity of thought, civil discourse, and the pursuit of truth for generations to come,” according to The New York Times.
The Republican governor — who also has attempted to outlaw publications about race and LGBTQ+ identities and ban an Advanced Placement African American Studies course — has frequently criticized what he calls “woke indoctrination” and leftist educational goals in schools.
While the NAACP’s travel advisory does not explicitly advise against traveling to Florida, it does caution visitors to be mindful of the political climate.
“Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color, and LGBTQ+ individuals,” the advisory reads, according to the Miami Herald. Travelers should know, it asserts, that “the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color.”
The League of United Latin American Citizens, a civil rights organization, and Equality Florida, a nonprofit that supports gay rights, have also issued travel advisories about Florida.
LULAC’s advisory raised issues with legislation DeSantis signed this month addressing undocumented immigrants. The new Florida law mandates that private employers with 25 or more employees verify an employee’s legal right to work in the country.
Additionally, Florida hospitals that accept Medicaid will be required to ask whether patients are U.S. citizens or are “lawfully present” in the country. It will also invalidate ID cards provided to undocumented immigrants in other states.
LULAC’s national president, Domingo Garcia, said the organization is considering suing the state of Florida when the law takes effect in July.
Equality Florida’s warning highlighted issues with several laws, including the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which forbids classroom instruction and dialogue about gender identity and sexual orientation in some elementary school grades.
Derrick Johnson, NAACP president and chief executive officer, said failing to educate students about the inequalities and horrors Black Americans continue to endure is “a disservice to students and a dereliction of duty to all,” The Times reported.
According to the Herald, Visit Florida, the state’s official tourism marketing company, reports that tourism is one of Florida’s key sectors, with close to 138 million visitors in 2022. Tourist spending in 2021 was nearly $102 billion, sustaining more than 1.7 million jobs.
Insiders are saying that DeSantis will officially declare his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination on social media and file papers with the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday.
“Once again, hate-inspired state leaders have chosen to put politics over people,” NAACP chair Leon Russell said in a statement, the Herald reported. Russell slammed DeSantis and the state of Florida for openly opposing diversity and inclusion values and rejecting “our shared identities to appeal to a dangerous, extremist minority.”