Florida wasn't the only state that passed LGBTQ-related laws this year

There’s been a wave of legislation that affects the LGBTQ community, including some directed at transgender youth.

Image by SatyaPrem from Pixabay

The Sunshine State wasn't alone in moving high-profile legislation that raised the ire of the LGBTQ community and its allies. 

Legislators in 13 states passed laws this year that affect LGBTQ residents, according to a national gay rights advocacy group, including a measure in Alabama that its state policy director called “the most anti-transgender legislative package we have ever seen.”

Much of the surge of anti-LGBTQ bills nationwide was directed at restricting services to transgender youth, by restricting their ability to participate in youth sports, use gender-appropriate restrooms or get appropriate medical care.

“Our community has been under attack,” said Cathryn Oakley, senior counsel and state legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign. “Radical political forces … are using the power that they are clinging onto to take decisions away from parents who want what’s best for their families. [It] is truly cowardly and unconscionable.”

The Alabama bill was especially sweeping. It banned transgender students from using a restroom corresponding with their gender identity. It requires school administrators to inform a student’s parents if they identify as LGBTQ. It makes it a crime to provide gender-affirming medical care to transgender youth. And it restricts what teachers can instruct their students on regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, signed the measure. “There are very real challenges facing our young people, especially with today’s societal pressures and modern culture,” she said in a statement. “I believe very strongly that if the Good Lord made you a boy, you are a boy, and if he made you a girl, you are a girl.”

The Human Rights Campaign counted 24 laws aimed at the LGBTQ community that made it onto the books so far this year. That’s a small fraction of the 240 or more anti-LGBTQ bills that were introduced or moving this year in state capitals across the country, but Oakley said a 90% success rate in blocking those bills “does not feel very good” because the ones that do make into law “are painful and they stick with us.”

Several state legislatures are still in session, so the numbers could change by the end of the year, but most state lawmakers have wrapped up official business.

The tally comes at a fraught time for LGBTQ people and advocates. Many communities are celebrating with Pride parades and festivities during June, but the wave of anti-LGBTQ laws and rhetoric has added extra anxiety to those activities. Idaho police arrested 31 members of a white supremacist group near a Pride event in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho last weekend for conspiring to riot. 

Meantime, a group of men wearing outfits of the Proud Boys far-right hate group interrupted a preschool story hour led by drag queen Panda Dulce. The men shouted slurs at Dulce but left before sheriff’s deputies arrived.

Oakley said that negative remarks by state officials helped create the treacherous situation. She noted that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s spokesperson claimed that anyone who didn’t support that state's Parental Rights in Education law, mocked by critics as “Don’t Say Gay,” was “probably a groomer.”

“The absolutely extreme, egregious, homophobic transphobic rhetoric that we’ve heard from elected officials [and the fact] that they felt free to do that, that they thought it would be persuasive, that they didn’t care who they offended with that kind of rhetoric, I do think that … gives permission to folks who are interested in doing harm and doing violence,” Oakley said.

Most-watched law was in Florida

Florida’s measure, which limits school instruction about gender and sexuality and eventually pit Republican lawmakers against the Walt Disney Co., was one of the most-watched battles over gay rights in the country this year. Like the many Republican-led efforts to limit the teaching of the role of race in American history and society, the law (HB 1557) has stirred up confrontations over what gets taught in school and who should decide that.

“We will make sure that parents can send their kids to school to get an education, not an indoctrination,” DeSantis said when he signed the measure in March.

The law prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender orientation between kindergarten and third grade, or in a manner that is “not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate” for older students. Under the law, parents can sue school districts if they feel the policy is violated.

During this year's regular legislative session, Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls, a Palm Harbor Republican, blamed the news media for creating confusion over the bill, saying the measure empowers parents to be involved in conversations about their students' sexual identity.

"I would say the media as a whole on this bill has totally misreported the facts," he said, according to a USA Today Network-Florida story. "So when you say, 'Well, gosh, it's created angst,' you have to own some of that angst. You've got to own the angst because the reality is they think that and feel that way because of what they read, not what is in the bill."

Oakley said teachers’ entire job is to teach materials that are age-appropriate for their students. The law, she said, creates “another mechanism for harassment.”

“A teacher is not going to be able to rely on their own judgment or on the judgment of their principal or school district. They are not going to be able to rely on what they’ve learned in their licensing,” she said. “They are going to have to teach in such a way that the most conservative, most litigious, most homophobic, transphobic parent in their class is not going to sue the school.”

Oakley said the bill is based on faulty premises. “It’s as if only LGBTQ people have a sexuality,” she said. “Everyone has a sexual orientation. Everyone has a gender identity. … But the only people who are going to be targeted by this legislation are people who are LGBTQ or who are perceived to be LGBTQ.”

The HRC noted that other curriculum restrictions passed in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Dakota, too.

The HRC flagged an Oklahoma measure that prohibits birth certificates from using any sex designation other than male or female. An Arizona law to allow adoption providers to discriminate on the basis of religious beliefs made the list, because HRC said it allows those agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ parents.

The 13 states listed in the report are Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Utah.

A version of this story previously appeared on Route Fifty

NEXT STORY: Vacationers to Florida & elsewhere plan to visit beaches, lakes, parks this summer

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.