In January 2019, less than a week after taking office, DeSantis issued a nondiscrimination order for state employees reiterating former Governor Rick Scott’s order; the order included race, age, sex, color, religion, national origin, marital status, and disability, but had no protections for sexual orientation or gender identity. Florida Equality sharply criticized DeSantis, with the organization’s senior political director saying he was “deeply disappointed to see that LGBT employees and contractors have been left out of the governor’s executive order.” Scott had promised to sign an LGBT inclusion order as governor, but failed to follow through on the argument that adequate federal protections existed.
In June 2019, DeSantis’ office issued a proclamation honoring the victims of the shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, a gay bar where 49 people were killed and 50 others injured on June 12, 2016. The proclamation did not include no reference to the LGBT community, leading to criticism and accusations that DeSantis may have intentionally left it out of the message. DeSantis later reissued the proclamation with revisions that included mentions of the LGBTQ community, with a spokesperson saying the earlier omission was an error by DeSantis staff.
On June 1, 2021, DeSantis signed the Women’s Sports Fairness Act (SB 1028). Prohibits transgender girls and women from participating and competing in junior high and high school girls’ and college women’s sports competitions in Florida. The law went into effect on July 1.