Florida Bill Would Allow Courts to Take Custody of Kids With Trans Parents

  • Florida Senate Bill 254 would grant courts emergency custody of kids who receive gender-affirming care.
  • The bill, introduced Friday, would also allow the courts to modify out-of-state custody agreements.
  • The bill would grant officials authority under the law that protects kids from domestic violence.

A proposed bill making its way through the Florida State Senate would allow the state “emergency jurisdiction” over children who receive or are “at risk of” receiving gender-affirming care — or if their parent receives it themselves.

Senate Bill 254, introduced Friday by State Senator Clay Yarborough, would grant the court authority to take emergency custody of kids under the same statute that protects them from domestic violence and abuse.

The state could take temporary custody of children if “it is necessary in an emergency to protect the child because the child, or a sibling or parent of the child” is “at risk of or is being subjected to the provision of sex reassignment prescriptions or procedures,” according to the proposed bill text.

The proposed bill defines sex reassignment prescriptions or procedures as hormone therapy, puberty blockers, and surgeries or procedures that “affirm a person’s perception of his or her sex if that perception is inconsistent with the person’s sex” at birth.

The court would also be granted “jurisdiction to vacate, stay, or modify a child custody determination of a court of another state to protect the child from the risk of being subjected to the provision of sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures,” according to the proposed bill text. “The court must vacate, stay, or modify the child custody determination to the extent necessary to protect the child from the provision of such prescriptions or procedures.”

Representatives for Yarborough, who sponsored the bill, did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Alejandra Caraballo, a clinical instructor at Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic and former staff attorney at the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, tweeted that the proposed law would allow “legal kidnapping” of trans kids and is part of a “full on war against trans people in the state of Florida.”

“The bill goes even further to violate interstate comity by authorizing the courts to vacate child custody determinations of other courts only if the child is trans. This is a greenlight to transphobic family members to engage in state sponsored kidnapping,” Caraballo said, adding: “A transphobic parent could kidnap their trans child in violation of custody agreements and abscond to Florida and be protected by Florida law under this despite likely committing felony kidnapping in their home state.” 

Caraballo did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Florida House Representatives Randy Fine and Ralph Massullo proposed a separate bill on Friday that, if passed, would make it illegal for doctors to provide gender-affirming care including puberty blockers and hormone therapy to minors, local news outlet Click Orlando reported.

Last month, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis requested public entities, including hospitals and universities, provide a breakdown of the medical data of patients who received gender-affirming care at their institutions. Students from public universities walked off campus in protest.

The state has seen an increase in anti-LGBT bill proposals and laws in recent years, including DeSantis’ controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which limits how teachers may instruct about sexual orientation and gender identity.

Representatives for DeSantis did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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