On Wednesday, LGBTQ advocates in at least three states held rallies, press conferences, and other public events at state legislatures to oppose proposed anti-LGBTQ bills being debated.
At least 122 anti-LGBTQ bills are being considered across the country, including 56 bills to prohibit transgender participation in sports in more than 30 states, and 35 bills in 22 states targeting transgender youth access to transition-related care. Newly-released research shows the healthcare bills would affect care for more than 45,000 transgender young people currently living in those states.
GLAAD released a guide for journalists covering the dozens of bills being debated nationwide.
Florida House lawmakers passed a bill (77-40) this afternoon to ban trans girls from participating in sports in secondary and post-secondary schools. The ban was to move to the Florida Senate, but local reports say it has been temporarily postponed. Equality Florida notes that transgender youth in the state have participated in sports that align with their gender identity for over a decade, with no documented problems.
State Rep. Michele Rayner-Goolsby, the first out queer Black woman elected to the Florida House, spoke out at an emotional press conference on the capitol grounds.
“This bill has real consequences for our children, not only cisgender but transgender students… I think about Black transgender girls, who are getting killed at 16 and 17 years old. And now we have a bill that would legalize that… we are legalizing a move that would strip their potential away,” Rep. Rayner-Goolsby said. “Our state is still recovering from the pandemic and here we are dealing with a bill that nobody has asked for. If you really believe that Black Lives Matter, that all lives matter, stand up and vote down this bill.”
The NCAA’s Board of Governors issued a statement on Monday supporting transgender athletes and affirming its policy that “only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected.” This policy threatens to strip Florida of its 50 scheduled championship events, with expected revenue of at least $75million over the next five years, should a ban on transgender athletes become law in the state.
A spokesperson for the Heat issued a statement last week: “The Miami HEAT champions diversity and inclusion both on and off the court. We believe sports are at their best when they bring people together to work, to play and to create a sense of belonging for all. Every young person deserves the opportunity to participate in athletics and experience the critical life lessons that sports offer such as wellness, dedication, problem-solving, and leadership. Sports should be welcoming for all.”
The North Carolina House Judiciary Committee held a hearing today on HB358, known as “Save Women’s Sports Act,” to ban trans women and girls from participating on athletic teams consistent with their gender at public schools and universities. Several parents testified at the hearing about the dangers of the bill and the lack of evidence to show any need for it.
A parent of a transgender child said the bill is “based on fear,” telling committee members, “You need to be educated around trans youth and trans girls, and I implore you … to talk to us, talk to the doctors.”
We must work to protect and respect our young people at every level of government, and that’s why I strongly oppose the NCGA bills attacking trans youth. We must #StopHB538 and support trans kids, no matter where they live in NC. #ProtectTransKids https://t.co/CKMem5cvUA
— Mayor Steve Schewel (@MayorSchewel) April 14, 2021
Public officials including Steve Schewel, Mayor of Durham, denounced the legislation: “This year Durham proudly passed an LGBTQ+-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance – because no one should face discrimination for being who they are, including transgender youth,” Schewel tweeted. “We must work to protect and respect our young people at every level of government, and that’s why I strongly oppose the NCGA bills attacking trans youth. We must #StopHB358 and support trans kids, no matter where they live in NC. #ProtectTransKIds.”
During the hearing, Rep. Mark Brody, R-Anson, a co-sponsor of the bill, misgendered trans women and girls and alleged that allowing them to participate in women’s sports would “prevent organizations like the N.C. High School Athletic Association from sanctioning a school for enforcing the gender requirement.”
However according to NCHSAA guidelines, transgender students are completely allowed to participate in school sports that aligns with their gender: “Yes. The NCHSAA allows participation in interscholastic athletics for all students, regardless of gender or gender identification. It is the intent that all students are able to compete on a level playing field in a safe, competitive and friendly environment, free of discrimination. Rules and regulations are intended to provide every student-athlete with equal opportunities to participate in athletics,” their website reads.
Other policies included in the NCHSAA include medical input from doctors, information from family and other documentation.
More than 400 medical providers in the state signed a letter opposing bills targeting trans youth.
The sports ban is among three anti-transgender bills being considered in North Carolina, which saw a devastating, nearly four billion dollar economic impact when the state passed a so-called “bathroom bill” five years ago.
Thousands of North Carolinians have spoken out and urged #NCGA to #StopHB358, which would single trans youth out for discrimination at school by excluding them from school sports. ACT NOW: Urge your lawmakers to oppose this dangerous bill https://t.co/NDOIsLNMe7 #ProtectTransKids pic.twitter.com/O0YLU2SxGT
— Serena Sonoma (@SerenaSonoma) April 14, 2021
Wednesday in Austin, LGBTQ advocates joined doctors and parents of trans youth at a rally on the steps of the Texas state capitol as lawmakers inside debated a number of anti-LGBTQ bills.
Equality Texas and the Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT) organized the rally, which was livestreamed on Facebook.
“Texas is under siege with more than 30 anti-LGBTQ bills this legislative session. They are targeting our trans kids and we will not stand for the attacks on our most vulnerable children,” said Angela Hale of Equality Texas in a statement emailed to GLAAD.
One of the harshest of the proposed bills (TX SB1646) would punish parents for consenting to gender-affirming healthcare for their trans kids, redefining such healthcare as child abuse on par with sex trafficking or child porn. The law proposes separating trans children from their families and placing them in state care, and carries criminal charges that could send parents to prison for allowing their trans kids to access gender-affirming healthcare.
A doctor spoke at the rally on behalf of concerned healthcare providers.
“This bill should not punish doctors for following evidence-based guidelines supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Academies of Sciences, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Family Physicians. We all want kids to be safe, and this is not the right way,” said Dr. Aliza Norwood.
A number of parents of trans kids spoke at the event, some with their kids standing beside them.
Rachel Gonzales of Dallas stood at the podium, her voice shaking as she described visiting the statehouse several times to fight for her three kids, including her trans daughter.
“When my son broke his foot, I sought out the best pediatric orthopedist I could find. When my daughter needed glasses, I sought out the best pediatric ophthalmologist that I could find. There is no reason that our legislators should be interfering with the necessary healthcare that all kids need. It is a decision between parents, children, and their physicians,” said Gonzalez.
The Texas legislature also debated anti-LGBTQ bills on Wednesday that would empower healthcare providers to turn away anyone who “violates” their “moral, ethical or religious beliefs,” and further deepen the stigma for those living with HIV.
Dozens of anti-LGBTQ state bills have been introduced in Texas this session. Those include bans on healthcare for trans youth, bans on school sports participation for trans youth, state preemption of local nondiscrimination protections, religious exemption bills, a ban on minors changing their gender markers on identity documents, and a bill criminalizing HIV.
Check out Equality Texas’ recommended actions here.
Mary Emily O’Hara, Barbara Simon, Serena Sonoma, Equality Florida, Equality North Carolina and Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT) contributed to this report.