National News Highlights — May 19, 2023

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Activists staging a sit-in outside Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis's office — Photo by Alicia Devine / Tallahassee Democrat via AP
Activists staging a sit-in outside Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis's office — Photo by Alicia Devine / Tallahassee Democrat via AP

Gay Florida senator decries DeSantis signings
In a signing ceremony that took place in the evangelical Cambridge Christian School in Tampa, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a series of bills that fall in line with others issued by state governments across the nation.

The laws ban gender-affirming care for minors and discussion of personal pronouns in schools, and restrict drag shows and bathroom use. They also place some restrictions on adults seeking gender-affirming treatment.

DeSantis reportedly made a show of tossing Sharpies to the crowd.

Democratic state Sen. Shevrin Jones, who is Gay, said that Republican lawmakers "have cloaked themselves in being the party of less government and parental rights, and what we're seeing now is the total opposite. Every other parent has the right to raise their child the way that they want to, as long as your child is not Gay, Trans, or Bisexual. That's freedom for some parents, but not for all parents."

Jones also said that the venue for the signing ceremony was a sign of how unpopular the governor's platform is.

"If he's so confident in his policies, don't go hiding behind signing the bills at a Christian school or place where you're more prone to get praise for your bigotry," Jones said. "Do it out in the community."

Three Florida families and their attorneys have asked for a federal court to intervene and block specifically the gender care law, as there are ongoing cases against the state Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine.

San Francisco appoints first drag laureate
San Francisco's response to the wave of anti-Trans sentiment and legislation was to appoint the world's first "drag laureate," a kind of ambassador for the city's LGBTQ+ community. Well-known drag performer and nightclub owner D'Arcy Drollinger was chosen for the role, which includes a $55,000 stipend for 18 months of her time.

"My goals are to make San Francisco sparkle," Drollinger said. "I think drag performers bring a lot of sparkle and humor and glamour and silliness to the world. I think that is part of why drag is so successful."

"I'm going to be in drag pretty much 24/7 for the next 18 months," she added.

Other progressive cities seem eager to follow suit, with West Hollywood planning to appoint its own drag laureate later this month, and New York trying as well, but in both cases there are some budgeting issues holding them back.

Drollinger's duties will include participating in drag events, serving as a spokesperson for San Francisco's LGBTQ+ community, and helping officials ensure that the city's drag history is "shared, honored, and preserved."