‘Climate of fear’: Pride events canceled after DeSantis signs laws targeting LGBTQ+ community

ST. CLOUD, Fla. — Two Florida communities announced the cancellation of their upcoming pride events after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed bills targeting the LGBTQ+ community this week.

DeSantis signed bills Wednesday that ban gender-affirming care for minors, target drag shows, restrict discussion of personal pronouns in schools and force people to use certain bathrooms.


The Tampa Pride Board posted on social media Thursday afternoon announcing that they had to cancel the upcoming Pride on the River event. Organizers called the bills signed by DeSantis “sickening” and said they had no choice but to cancel.

“Our choice was clear and spelled out by the governor,” they said.

Read: DeSantis signs bills targeting drag shows, transgender kids and the use of bathrooms and pronouns

The bills signed by DeSantis, they said, threatened the licensing and permitting of the event.

Organizers of the PRIDE in St. Cloud event also posted on social media Thursday that they had to cancel their event scheduled for June 10.

“As you know, Florida has recently passed a number of laws that target the LGBTQIA+ community,” organizers said. “These laws have created a climate of fear and hostility for LGBTQIA+ people in Florida. We believe that holding an LGBTQIA+ event in this environment would put our community at risk.”

Read: Critics say new laws signed by governor hurt LGBTQ+ community

In contrast, organizers of Lake County Pride, which is scheduled for June 17, posted a statement Thursday doubling down that their event will go on as planned.

“We will never back down,” organizers said, adding that, “No unconstitutional law will keep us from celebrating our PRIDE event.”

The gender-affirming care ban and the law targeting drag shows signed by DeSantis went into effect immediately when signed Wednesday. The bathroom restrictions and the law banning schools from forcing children to “provide his or her preferred personal title or pronouns” take effect July 1.

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.