DeSantis continues anti-LGBTQ attacks during pride month by vetoing funding
for PULSE Massacre Survivors just days before the 5 year remembrance
Governor Ron DeSantis continued his anti-LGBTQ crusade on the second day of Pride Month by vetoing all funding for LGBTQ programs from the state budget. Canceled funding includes money earmarked for mental health programming to support survivors of the Pulse Massacre, to house homeless LGBTQ children, and for Orlando’s LGBTQ Community Center.
After signing the Transgender Youth Sports Ban into law yesterday, Governor DeSantis has now turned his attention to stripping funding for mental health support from survivors of the Pulse Massacre just days before the 5 year rememberance. The 2016 mass shooting was one of the worst in United States history, and targeted Central Florida’s LGBTQ and LatinX Communities, claiming the lives of 49 people.
“Let’s be clear about what this is: Governor DeSantis has declared war on Florida’s LGBTQ community.” said Brandon Wolf, Media Relations Manager for Equality Florida and survivor of the Pulse massacre. “Before the 2019 Remembrance Ceremony, Governor DeSantis stood on hallowed ground, steps from where I escaped the building in 2016, and promised me that he would always support those of us impacted by the Pulse nightclub shooting. Today, almost two years later to date, he vetoed mental health services for us. I will never forget.”
In a statement, Dr. George A. Wallace, Executive Director of the LGBT+ Center Orlandosaid, “I am disappointed once again that Governor Ron DeSantis has vetoed funding for the LGBTQ community, specifically those affected by the Pulse tragedy. Some of Central Florida’s most vulnerable citizens rely on The Center Orlando to provide lifesaving services, such as case management, navigation, and critical mental health counseling. The OUAC directly serves those impacted by the 2016 Pulse tragedy. We now must pivot to find funding to continue serving Orlando’s LGBTQ community at the same level as we had planned for the upcoming fiscal year. Yesterday marked the first day of Pride Month and Governor DeSantis has once again proved that he is one of the most homophobic and transphobic Governors in the United States.”
In a year of a record budget surplus of 6.6 billion dollars because of the American Rescue Plan, DeSantis’ cruel budget also targets homeless LGBTQ youth. “This money would have helped LGBTQ+ youth facing homelessness, bullying, isolation from their families, physical and sexual abuse, and drug abuse.” said Heather Wilkie, Executive Director of the Zebra Coalition, a network of organizations which provide direct services to LGBTQ+ youth ages 13 – 24. “We were planning to expand our housing capacity from 11 to 35 beds for homeless youth and were honored for the support of so many of our state legislators. Now we’re unsure where the money will come from.”
Yesterday, LGBTQ advocates rallied across the state from Tallahassee to Fort Lauderdale in opposition to Governor DeSantis signing the Transgender Youth Sports Ban, the first anti-LGBTQ bill passed in Florida in 24 years. Equality Florida will continue the work of protecting trans kids and holding lawmakers who openly discriminate against our community accountable.
Equality Florida is the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida’s LGBTQ community. Through education, grassroots organizing, coalition building, and lobbying, we are changing Florida so that no one suffers harassment or discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. www.equalityflorida.org