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Alabama Legislature Passes ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bills, Trans Care, Restroom Ban

The Alabama Legislature has passed two bills focused on transgender youth: SB 184, which would ban gender-affirming care, and HB 322, which would ban trans students from using corresponding bathrooms and locker rooms. to their gender identity. HB 322 also limits LGBTQ content in classrooms due to a last minute amendment.

SB 184, the Vulnerable Children’s Protection Act, states that anyone who provides gender-affirming care – including puberty blockers, hormone therapy, or gender-affirming physical surgeries – to anyone under 18 could be convicted of a felony and face up to 10 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

Several Alabama doctors have said the legislation is riddled with misinformation about how gender-affirming care actually affects children.

“When lawmakers try to practice medicine without a license, they quickly realize they didn’t understand much more than they thought they understood,” said Morissa Ladinsky, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. , previously told ABC News.

For example, the bill would prohibit minors from receiving gender-affirming “surgical procedures,” but in Alabama such surgeries are not permitted until a patient has reached the age of legal majority to medical decisions, which is 19 years old.

The legislation also states that puberty blockers can lead to infertility or other health risks. According to Ladinsky, these potential side effects only present real risks after puberty and are not a risk for young people taking puberty blockers.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Senator Shay Shelnutt, called health care claims of the genre “child abuse.”

“We don’t want parents to abuse their kids. We don’t want to make it an option, because that’s what it is; it’s abuse. It’s just to protect the kids,” said Shelnutt Feb. 23 on the status. Senate floor.

Courtney Roark, Alabama director of policy and movement building for the youth-led reproductive rights nonprofit URGE, called the bill’s passage an attack on bodily autonomy. young trans people and their families.

“In yet another attack on our bodies, our autonomy, and our desire to live happy, healthy lives, Alabama politicians have passed and signed into law a bill that would criminalize doctors, principals, teachers, school counselors and nurses for providing gender-affirming care and support to trans and non-binary youth,” Roark said. “Trans and non-binary youth in our state and across the country already face extraordinary obstacles to accessing the liberated and joyful life they deserve.”

HB 322 would require K-12 public school students to only use bathrooms and locker rooms that match the gender they were assigned at birth.

Alabama State Representative Scott Stadthagen, the bill’s sponsor, said the bill does not target transgender students.

“Nearly every school district in this state faces this problem with opposite sexes wanting to use opposite bathrooms,” Stadthagen said during a panel discussion. “I think it’s a safety issue. It’s for the protection of our students.”

An amendment to this bill would also prohibit classroom teaching or discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity for K-5 students in K-12 public schools. The language mirrors the controversial so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bills popping up across the country.

LGBTQ suicide awareness group The Trevor Project condemned the passage of such bills.

“Likely on the last day of Alabama’s legislative session, lawmakers added last-minute votes to advance the most extreme anti-transgender agenda we’ve seen yet — all within hours,” said Sam Ames, director of advocacy. and government affairs for The Trevor Project.

“These policies are not only cruel and unnecessary, they are unpopular among a majority of Americans,” they continued. “Criminalizing doctors, isolating trans youth from their support systems, and stigmatizing conversations around LGBTQ identity will only fuel further bullying, anxiety, and risk of suicide among these youth.”

ABC News

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