NAACP Issues Travel Advisory for Florida, Joining Civil Rights Groups in Warning Against ‘Hostile’ Laws



The NAACP, a prominent civil rights organization, has issued a travel advisory for the state of Florida, aligning with other civil rights groups in warning potential tourists about recent laws and policies enacted under the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis. These laws are accused of being openly hostile towards African Americans, people of color, and LGBTQ+ individuals.

The NAACP’s travel advisory follows similar actions taken by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), a Latino civil rights organization, and Equality Florida, a gay rights advocacy group. Together, these organizations are expressing concerns about the impact of Florida’s legislative climate on marginalized communities.

Florida, renowned for its vibrant tourism industry and status as a popular destination, is facing scrutiny over these perceived discriminatory laws. The state’s reputation and economic well-being could be at stake, as potential visitors may reconsider their travel plans.

The NAACP’s advisory, approved by its board of directors, urges tourists to consider the state’s stance on racial and LGBTQ+ equality before making travel arrangements. It highlights the devaluation and marginalization faced by African Americans and communities of color in Florida, raising awareness about the challenges they encounter.

Governor Ron DeSantis’s office was approached for comment, but no response has been received at the time of writing. It is worth noting that Governor DeSantis is expected to announce his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination later this week.

Critics argue that the laws implemented by DeSantis and Republican lawmakers perpetuate discrimination. In January, the DeSantis administration rejected the College Board’s Advanced Placement African American Studies course. Furthermore, measures banning diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in state colleges, as well as critical race theory, have been advanced by Republican legislators. The passage of the Stop WOKE Act, which restricts certain race-based conversations and analysis in schools and businesses, has further intensified concerns.

Florida’s Democratic mayors swiftly responded to the travel advisory, emphasizing their cities’ commitment to diversity and inclusion. They reassured visitors that everyone would be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of the outcome of legislative decisions in Tallahassee, the state capital.

Florida’s tourism industry, a major source of employment with 1.6 million full-time and part-time jobs, experienced a resurgence in 2022, welcoming over 137.5 million tourists—returning to pre-pandemic levels, according to Visit Florida, the state’s tourism promotion agency. Visitors injected $98.8 billion US into Florida’s economy in 2019, demonstrating the sector’s significance.

The travel advisory issued by the NAACP serves as a cautionary message to potential tourists, urging them to consider the implications of discriminatory laws on marginalized communities. It underscores the need for continued vigilance in the fight for equality and justice.

A shadow of fear

LULAC, a prominent Hispanic civil rights organization, and Equality Florida, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group, have issued travel advisories for Florida, citing recent laws that are seen as discriminatory and potentially harmful to minority communities. The warnings specifically address Hispanic and LGBTQ+ travelers considering visits to the state.

LULAC’s advisory highlights a newly enacted law that prohibits local governments from funding organizations that issue identification cards to undocumented individuals and invalidates out-of-state driver’s licenses held by undocumented immigrants, among other provisions. Additionally, the law mandates that hospitals accepting Medicaid include a citizenship question on intake forms, potentially deterring undocumented immigrants from seeking necessary medical care. Lydia Medrano, LULAC’s Vice President for the Southeast region, expressed concern about the fear instilled within communities across Florida due to the actions taken by Governor Ron DeSantis.

Equality Florida’s warning points to a series of recent measures and laws that limit LGBTQ+ rights and freedoms in the state. These include efforts to restrict discussions on LGBTQ+ topics in schools, the removal of books featuring gay characters from school libraries, a ban on gender-affirming care for minors, new restrictions on abortion access, and a law allowing concealed carry of firearms without a permit. The advisory from Equality Florida argues that when taken together, these laws pose a significant risk to the health and safety of travelers to the state.

The impact of these laws is already being felt, as several Pride events have been canceled in Florida. Organizers of a Pride festival in St. Cloud, southeast of Orlando, made the difficult decision to call off the event due to safety concerns arising from the anti-LGBTQ+ laws. In a Facebook post, they expressed the belief that hosting an LGBTQ+ event in the current environment would put the community at risk. Similarly, an upcoming event in Tampa featuring drag performers, known as Pride on the River, was also canceled, with organizers stating their unwillingness to take any chances given the circumstances.

The travel advisories issued by LULAC and Equality Florida serve as cautionary measures, urging Hispanic and LGBTQ+ individuals to consider the potential risks and discriminatory climate in Florida before making travel arrangements. The organizations aim to draw attention to the impact of these laws on marginalized communities and advocate for the protection of basic freedoms and rights.

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