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Get the latest coverage of the 2023 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee from our coverage partners and WUSF.

Equality Florida and Florida Immigrant Coalition are 'sending a signal' with their travel advisories

A map of Florida, entirely in red, is on the right side of the page. At the top of the page reads: "Emergency Travel Advisory. Reconsider travel to Florida due to unconstitutional laws targeted at immigrant communities which abuse civil liberties."

On the left, a yellow box reads: "High Risk: Every county in Florida represents a high risk of unlawful detainment and potential family separation."
Florida Immigration Coalition
The Florida Immigrant Coalition released a travel advisory to the entire state, saying every county represents a high risk for immigrant travelers. A USF professor says it could be “sending a signal” to people to start speaking out.

Equality Florida and the Florida Immigration Coalition issued travel advisories to people planning on moving or visiting the state. A USF professor said reaction will be important to watch.

A travel advisory from Equality Florida does not mince words. In all caps, the subject reads: "FLORIDA MAY NOT BE A SAFE PLACE TO MOVE OR VISIT.”

The LGBTQ+ civil rights organization joins the NAACP and the Florida Immigrant Coalition in issuing such a warning.

In addition to what some call anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, the advisory cites other bills in the Florida House that "restrict access to reproductive health care, repeal gun safety laws, foment racial prejudice, and attack public education by banning books and censoring curriculum."

Equality Florida press secretary Brandon Wolf said the advisory was released in response to the numerous questions they are receiving from around the globe about the safety of the state.

Wolf pointed to 18 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have moved through at least one committee during this year's Florida legislative session.

“These are really serious implications of policies that are moving right now," Wolf said. "And it was important for us to lay out that landscape now, before these laws are signed and go into effect so that people can make informed decisions about whether or not Florida is safe to travel right now.”

He said one of the proposed laws will ban private insurance companies from covering transgender adults' medication; another will dissolve existing child custody agreements for transgender youth, possibly sending children to an unsupportive parent.

The Florida Immigration Coalition also asked people this week to use "extreme caution" as they travel to the state.

“These types of communications won't necessarily do anything directly right away. So, the activism that bubbles up around it, the response that bubbles up around it, is going to be very important to watch.”
USF associate professor of political communication Joshua Scacco

The group says every Florida county poses a "high risk" of harassment or possible detainment for people of color, individuals with an accent, and international travelers, according to their release.

Last month, the NAACP Florida State Conference voted unanimously to ask the group's board of directors to issue a travel advisory for the state.

All three groups are worried about legislation state lawmakers are considering that they say targets their communities.

University of South Florida associate professor of political communication Joshua Scacco said the warnings could be “sending a signal” to people to start speaking out.

“These types of communications won't necessarily do anything directly right away," he said. "So, the activism that bubbles up around it, the response that bubbles up around it, is going to be very important to watch.”

Scacco adds that most businesses will wait for the actual passage of bills into law before taking a stand.

In addition, he says that while some companies may worry about facing repercussions from the state like Disney has for speaking out, most will likely be motivated by profits.

"One of the things we also know is that there has been messaging on the floor of the Florida Legislature that has been directed at members of the LGBTQ community and their allies." Scacco said.

"I think that Equality Florida's response is both a combination of the legislative climate and also, and you can't divorce this from (it), the communicative and the messaging climate as well in Florida right now, which is specifically targeting individuals in that (LGBTQ) community."

Equality Florida's Wolf said anyone visiting or living in the state who has experienced any type of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity should report it to their website.

He added that whether someone chooses to leave or stay in the state, they're encouraging people to fight for the future of Florida.

"Because at the end of the day, Florida is going to be here long after Ron DeSantis is relegated to the waste bin of political history," Wolf said. "And we have to write the future that comes after that. So it's on all of us to be engaged in the fight right now."

Nothing about my life has been typical. Before I fell in love with radio journalism, I enjoyed a long career in the arts in musical theatre.