Politics

US states up and down the country pushed cruel attacks on LGBT+ kids this week

Maggie Baska March 11, 2022
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A participant is seen holding a sign reading "Equal rights for all" at a LGBT+ march

A participant is seen holding a sign reading "Equal rights for all" at a march. (Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty)

Just three months into the new year, lawmakers across the US have introduced an abundance of bills trying to limit the rights of LGBT+ Americans. 

Several legislative attacks – including the trans sports ban in IowaFlorida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill and attacks against the trans community in Texas – have dominated headlines, garnering international outcry. 

But far more bills are not attracting media attention, with proposals ranging from restricting gender-affirming care to excluding trans students from school athletics and banning LGBT+ books in libraries. 

At least 195 anti-LGBT+ bills are currently making their way through legislatures across the US, according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Over half of these bills target trans youth. 

Chase Strangio, activist and deputy director for Transgender Justice with the ACLU, told Democracy Now that the staggering number of bills is part of a national “effort to leverage and weaponise misinformation” about the LGBT+ community – particularly trans people – to “mobilise a political base in the lead-up” to this year’s general election and the 2024 presidential election. 

These are just some of the bills seeking to attack LGBT+ youths that were advanced this week.

Alabama 

Dozens of Republican legislators have signed on as co-sponsors of a bill requiring K-12 public schools in Alabama to “designate use of rooms where students may be in various stages of undress on the basis of biological sex”

House Bill 322 would apply to students wanting to use “multiple occupancy” restrooms or changing rooms. The bill passed through the state’s House last month and was referred to the Senate committee on governmental affairs on Tuesday (8 March). 

Arizona

On Wednesday (9 March), lawmakers on the Arizona House judiciary committee passed two bills that would greatly impact trans youth in the state. 

Senate Bill 1165 would prevent trans kids from participating in sports while SB 1138 would ban “irreversible” gender-affirming surgeries for trans minors. 

Progress Arizona described SB 1138 as an attempt by the Republican party to launch a “full scale assault to erase the existence of transgender children”. 

Kentucky

Like many states, lawmakers in Kentucky are debating on trans sports bans. One bill, House Bill 23, was due to be voted on Thursday (10 March), but the vote was ultimately postponed as it was returned to rules

However, the Senate version of the bill (SB 83) passed through the House education committee on Tuesday. According to Kentucky Trans Health Advocacy, the bill could be “voted on early as Monday” (14 March).  

Oklahoma 

During a legislative session, Oklahoma lawmakers proposed Senate Bill 1142 to criminalise any school official, teacher or librarian that offer books on “sex, sexual lifestyles, or sexual activity, or books that are of a controversial nature”, including LGBT+ materials.

According to CNN, librarians and officials will need to remove the book within 30 days or face a minimum fine of $10,000 a day until it is removed. School officials and librarians could also be suspended from working in schools for up to two years if they refused to take the materials off shelves. 

Tennessee

On Tuesday, a House panel advanced a bill, HB 800, that would ban public schools from using textbooks and instructional materials that “promote, normalise, support or address controversial social issues” including LGBT+ “lifestyles”. 

The bill will now move onto the full House for debate. 

Wisconsin 

The Republican-controlled Wisconsin Senate passed Assembly Bill 963 on Tuesday which would create a “Parental Bill of Rights”, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The legislation would allow parents to due government bodies and officials when these rights are violated. 

It gives parents the right to review “instructional materials and outlines” used by their child’s schools. The bill would also give parents the ability to sue school staff at public schools for using the chosen name and pronouns of the student if the parent disagrees with their child’s identity. 

HRC Wisconsin state director Wendy Strout said the bill “flies in the face of best practices” recommended by mental health and child development professionals.

“Forcing students to endure the wrong name or wrong pronouns, day in and day out, will only serve to further increase the already alarming statistics on depression among LGBTQ+ people in Wisconsin,” Strout added. 

 

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