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Trans solidarity at London Pride 2019
trans solidarity at London pride, 2019Photography Asafe Ghalib

A rundown of the most disturbing new anti-LGBTQ bills in the US

From being fined $1,000 for talking about homosexuality in schools, to outing trans students against their will: here’s everything you need to know

In recent months, state lawmakers in multiple US states have proposed a slew of laws that would actively harm LGBTQ+ youths. Republican lawmakers in states including Florida, Utah, and South Dakota have recently pushed for measures that target the rights of young LGBTQ people – particularly young trans people.

Some bills seek to prohibit trans kids from participating in school sports or bar them from receiving gender-affirming care. This continued restriction of LGBTQ+ rights follows the human rights campaign branding 2021 “worst year in recent history for LGBTQ state legislative attacks”. 

Here’s a breakdown of some of the most harmful bills being proposed in the US right now.

Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Bill

Status: in committee

Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Bill – dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill – proposes banning discussions about sex or gender identity in classrooms. To make it even worse, a new amendment to the widely-criticised bill would require schools to disclose whether a child is LGBTQ+ to their parents – essentially forcing them to come out. The amendment reads: “The plan must facilitate disclosure between the student and parent through an open dialogue in a safe, supportive, and [judgement]-free environment that respects the parent-child relationship and protects the mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing of the student.”

Pete Buttigieg, US Secretary of Transportation, has condemned the bill as “dangerous” and warned that the proposed new laws could lead to more deaths by suicide.

Utah’s Student Eligibility in Interscholastic Activities’ Bill

Status: crossed over

Republicans in Utah have introduced the Student Eligibility in Interscholastic Activities’ Bill: a first-of-its-kind anti-trans sports bill.

The bill proposes that a “commission” should be able to determine student-athlete eligibility on a case-by-case basis. This commission would be permitted to analyse trans kids’ bodies and “establish a baseline range” for various attributes such as height, weight, body mass, wingspan, hip-to-knee ratio, and other “physical characteristics affected by puberty.” Trans students whose bodies do not fall within the established parameters would be banned from participating in gendered sports.

The bill would also render the commission “immune from suit with respect to all acts done and actions taken in good faith in carrying out [their] purposes” – meaning that it’ll be almost impossible for trans kids to appeal any decisions made about their so-called ‘eligibility’ to play sports.

Alabama’s Senate Bill 184 

Status: in committee

Senate Bill 184 proposes making it illegal to offer gender-affirming medical treatments to children under the age of 19. The bill would make this a Class C felony, which carries a sentence of up to ten years in prison. It would also ban operations that alter a child’s sex – although doctors of trans kids in Alabama have stressed that these operations are not actually being carried out anyway.

The bill would also require that school staff not “withhold from a minor’s parent or legal guardian information related to a minor’s perception that his or her gender or sex is inconsistent with his or her sex”, meaning that schools would have the power to out trans students against their will.

Kansas’ House Bill 2662

Status: in committee 

The House Bill 2662 is proposing to change Kansas’ obscenity law to make it “a Class B misdemeanour” to use classroom materials that depict “homosexuality”. A Class B misdemeanour carries a potential sentence of up to 6 months in the county jail as well as the possibility of up to $1,000 in fines.

South Dakota’s “Protect fairness in women's sports” Bill

Status: enacted

On 4th February, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem signed into law the so-called “protect fairness in women’s sports” bill, which bans trans youth from participating in sports teams that align with their gender identity. The bill states: “Only female athletes, based on their biological sex, may participate in any team, sport, or athletic event designated as being for females, women, or girls.”

“It's about allowing biological females in their sex to compete fairly in a level playing field that gives them opportunities for success,” Noem said in a press conference. She went on to call the expansion of trans human rights a “troubling movement”. Undoubtedly this damaging law will continue to harm trans youth in South Dakota, where 90 percent of LGBTQ+ youth are diagnosed with anxiety or depression.