Governor DeSantis Signs New Florida Law To Protect Minors From Sex-Reassignment Prescriptions Or Procedures

SB 254 was recently signed into law by Governor DeSantis.  The law grants Florida courts temporary emergency jurisdiction over a child present in the state if the child “has been subjected to or is threatened with being subjected to sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures.”

The law amends Florida’s Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act to provide that:

  • In addition to other conditions in current law that result in a court in Florida having temporary emergency jurisdiction over child custody if a child is present in this state, a court in Florida has such jurisdiction if it is necessary in an emergency to protect a child who has been subjected to or is threatened with being subjected to sex reassignment treatments; and
  • Regarding the current-law authorization for a petitioner to file an application with a court for a warrant to take physical custody of a child if the child is likely to imminently suffer serious physical harm or removal from this state, the term “serious physical harm” includes, but is not limited to, being subjected to sex-reassignment treatments.
  • Neither the child nor the parents have to be Florida residents; the child just needs to be “present in the State of Florida.”

The new law defines sex-reassignment prescriptions and procedures as inflicting “serious physical harm to the child,” equating them with mistreatment and abuse, thus allowing the state to intervene. The intention or parental consent to undergo gender reassignment is likewise considered a threat made against the minor.  Given that child custody law in Florida favors shared decision-making, for one parent to unilaterally subject or threaten the minor child with gender reassignment medications or procedures without the other parent’s approval, is a scenario this bill is intended to address by giving the other parent an opportunity to petition Florida court for redress.

If a minor is brought to or remanded in Florida under this temporary emergency jurisdiction, the court may issue an ex parte order (an emergency order given in an urgent matter that can’t wait for a hearing, usually when a child is at risk of being harmed) awarding temporary custody to another parent or relative. They may also issue a restraining order, as with an abuser.

The law further allows Florida courts to “vacate, stay or modify” another state’s custody order.

This law is controversial for sure and will likely be litigated extensively; however, in the big picture, this is a good thing.   Doctors, teachers, schools, and other third parties should not be making decisions for a minor child without both parents’ consent.  Unlike what other sites are saying, this bill does not strip rights of either parent, but it does stop one parent (and doctors, schools, teachers and other third parties) from usurping control over a minor child and forcing sex reassignment drugs or procedures on a minor child without the other parent’s consent.

If you have a situation where you believe your child is being subjected to or threatened with gender reassignment medication and/or procedures and the minor child is in the state of Florida, contact Brenda A. Baietto immediately to discuss the matter.