Key Florida Republican lawmaker seeks LGBTQ protections

The proposal comes as some school districts face criticism for their policies on transgender student rights.
Joe Gruters is a regular speaker at Trump's rallies, often leading crowds in “Trump-Pence” chants. “This Joe's some piece of work,” Trump said in 2012 at a Sarasota gathering. MONICA HERNDON | Times
Joe Gruters is a regular speaker at Trump's rallies, often leading crowds in “Trump-Pence” chants. “This Joe's some piece of work,” Trump said in 2012 at a Sarasota gathering. MONICA HERNDON | Times
Published January 23

State Sen. Joe Gruters, chairman of the Florida Republican Party and a close ally of President Donald Trump, filed legislation Wednesday to bar discrimination in the workplace over a person’s sexual identity or gender orientation.

SB 438 does not directly discuss students in schools. But it comes at a time when school districts in Gruters' home region of Sarasota County, as well as Pasco County, have faced some stiff opposition to their policies and procedures dealing with transgender student rights.

Growing numbers of conservative critics have filled Pasco County School Board meetings in recent months, pressuring the administration and board to rewrite their rules relating to restroom and locker room use, among other things. District officials so far have taken no steps to acquiesce, citing state and federal laws and precedents that do not allow for discrimination.

Related coverage: Religious rights group protests Pasco’s treatment of transgender students

If adopted, Gruters' bill — which so far does not have a House companion — could bolster the district arguments.

The bill takes steps to define gender identity as an identity separate from a person’s assigned physiology or assigned sex at birth — language the critics have argued against in their presentations to the school boards. It states evidence of a person’s gender identity could include medical information, consistent and uniform assertions, and other details showing the identity is a “sincerely held part of a person’s core identity and is not being asserted for an improper purpose.”

Keep an eye on this one.

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