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Alabama Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signs flurry of anti-LGBTQ+ bills

Including a bill that would criminalize doctors for providing best-practice, gender-affirming care to transgender and nonbinary youth

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Alabama Republican Governor Kay Ivey (Screenshot/WVTM 13)

MONTGOMERY – Alabama Republican Governor Kay Ivey signed a package of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation Friday including House Bill 322 which bans K-12 students from using bathrooms and school facilities consistent with their gender identity and enacts a bill similar to one recently enacted in Florida with “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” provisions for classroom instruction in grades K-5.

Ivey also signed SB 184 – a bill that would criminalize doctors for providing best-practice, gender-affirming care to transgender and nonbinary youth.

In response, major LGBTQ+ and civil rights organizations – including The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and Human Rights Campaign (HRC) – announced they would challenge the bill.

“A state cannot criminalize parents and doctors for following medical guidelines and providing needed medical treatments,” said Asaf Orr, senior staff attorney and Transgender Youth Project director at the NCLR. “This is a blatantly unconstitutional bill that will cause enormous stress and harm to Alabama families and cost Alabama taxpayers millions of dollars to defend.”

“At the eleventh hour, the governor of Alabama signed into law a slate of arguably the most extreme anti-trans bills we have ever seen. These policies attempt to make providing gender-affirming care a felony, and cut off access to nearly every support system transgender and nonbinary youth have – support systems we know are critical for reducing their suicide risk and for advancing their positive mental health,” said Sam Ames, Director of Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project. “But they will not succeed. To trans and nonbinary youth in Alabama and across the country watching on this dark day: This is not over. We will fight as far as it takes, until the day every young person knows they are loved, supported, and worthy just as they are. We’re here with you today, we’re here for you every day, and we’re not going anywhere.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Alabama, Lambda Legal, Transgender Law Center, and Cooley LLP announced today plans to file a legal challenge to proposed legislation in Alabama that would criminalize medical professionals who provide gender-affirming care to transgender adolescents with up to 10 years in prison.

The bills have been opposed by doctors, medical associations, and the families of transgender youth who consider gender-affirming care to be medically necessary and lifesaving. Similar efforts by lawmakers in Arkansas and Texas to restrict access to gender-affirming care have been blocked by courts.

“If Alabama lawmakers insist on passing this cruel, dangerous, and unconstitutional legislation into law, the state will immediately have a lawsuit to deal with,” said Carl S. Charles, senior attorney for Lambda Legal. “The Alabama Legislature and Governor Kay Ivey need to consider the time and resources they will invest, not to mention the stain of discrimination that often means lost opportunity and investment, and ask themselves if targeting the health care of children is truly worth it because we are prepared to make that investment in order to protect transgender youth, their families, and their doctors in Alabama.”

New polling data from The Trevor Project and Morning Consult find:

  • A majority of U.S. adults oppose blocking students from accessing LGBTQ resources and educational content on the internet at school (57%), banning books on LGBTQ topics from school libraries (56%), and banning classroom discussions about LGBTQ topics — including sexual orientation and gender identity — in school (52%). 
  • Further, a majority of adults agree that transgender minors should have access to gender-affirming hormone therapy (55%) and puberty blockers (52%) if it’s recommended by their doctor and supported by their parents. And only 1 in 3 adults say lawmakers should have the ability to outlaw gender-affirming medical care for minors even if such a ban is against the recommendation of doctors and major medical associations.

Another poll released earlier this year found that found that 85% of transgender and nonbinary youth —and two-thirds of all LGBTQ youth (66%) — say recent debates about state laws restricting the rights of transgender people have negatively impacted their mental health.

Alabama

LGBTQ-affirming charter school targeted by GOP candidate hires security

“The faculty put on a drag show for children. That’s not education, it’s exploitation. It’s got to stop. It’s time to fight back”

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LGBTQ+ affirming Magic City Acceptance Academy entrance stairwell (Photo via Facebook)

HOMEWOOD, Al. – A rarity in a state whose Governor just signed a slate of anti-LGBTQ+ bills including a law that will make treating Trans minors a felony, an LGBTQ-affirming charter school in suburban Birmingham is the focus of anti-LGBTQ attack adverts by a Republican gubernatorial candidate.

Michael Wilson, principal of the Magic City Acceptance Academy, told Alabama news outlet AL.com on Wednesday that a TV ad running in support of Republican governor hopeful Tim James is “scaring the hell out of our kids,” and he’s calling for it be removed. In the meantime, security has been added at the school that opened last fall he told AL.com.

James, who is campaigning to replace incumbent Governor Kay Ivey, targeted the school due to its billing itself as a one-of-its-kind charter school that, while open to all students, is “LGBTQ-affirming,” according to AL.com.

In his television campaign ad, James called this “exploitation” of children and “not education.”

James also blasted the school on Twitter: “For a public school like Magic City Acceptance Academy to use $2 million of our state tax dollars to host drag queen shows for kids should anger every parent, grandparent and taxpayer in Alabama.” In another post James went after principal Wilson and the school’s faculty and staff:

“The Tim James ad is nothing short of an adult bullying children,” said Wilson, 69, who oversees a school of approximately 240 students in grades 6-12. “It’s causing more anxiety. You are talking about kids who are four times more likely than their straight counterparts with suicide ideation.”

The ad is also angering LGBTQ+ supporters in Alabama, whose concerns about safety for the state’s LGBTQ+ youth is growing after last week’s legislative actions. These include the governor’s signing of House Bill 322 which bans K-12 students from using bathrooms and school facilities consistent with their gender identity and enacts a bill similar to one recently enacted in Florida with “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” provisions for classroom instruction in grades K-5.

Governor Ivey also signed SB 184 – a bill that would criminalize doctors for providing best-practice, gender-affirming care to transgender and nonbinary youth.

The campaign ad is a 30-second spot that starts off with James claiming, “there is a war going on between common sense and crazy.” He then criticizes transgender athletes and Ketanji Brown Jackson’s response during her Senate confirmation hearings after being asked to define a “woman.”

The ad continues with James saying, “Now here in Alabama, we chartered the first transgender school in the South using millions of your tax dollars. The faculty put on a drag show for children. That’s not education, it’s exploitation. It’s got to stop. It’s time to fight back.”

The school responded in a statement on Facebook:

AL.com is reporting that James, during a radio appearance on Thursday, continued to use the charter school to underscore his platform that “our education system is crumbling,” citing the state’s low rankings in math. He said he plans to “deconstruct” the state’s educational system “as it stands today.”

He’s currently trailing incumbent Gov. Kay Ivey by a considerable distance in polling ahead of the May 24 primary

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Alabama

Alabama Legislature passes gender-affirming care ban

“If passed and signed into law, Alabama will have the most deadly, sweeping, and hostile law targeting transgender people in the country”

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Alabama State Capitol (Photo Credit: State of Alabama)

MONTGOMERY, Al. – A bill that would criminalize gender-affirming care for minors cleared the Alabama Legislature Thursday. As the legislation heads to Republican Gov. Kay Ivey, some of the largest LGBTQ+ rights and social justice organizations are promising to challenge the measure should it be signed into law. 

S.B. 184, which would be the first bill in the U.S. to make providing gender-affirming care to those under 19 a felony, passed the House along party lines.

The measure would ban puberty blockers, hormone therapies and surgeries for minors in Alabama. The legislation would punish doctors and parents who violate the law with up to 10 years in prison. Supporters of the legislation argue the bill is necessary to protect children in the state.

In response, major LGBTQ+ and civil rights organizations – including The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and Human Rights Campaign (HRC) – announced they would challenge the bill in court if Ivey signs it. 

“A state cannot criminalize parents and doctors for following medical guidelines and providing needed medical treatments,” said Asaf Orr, senior staff attorney and Transgender Youth Project director at the NCLR. “This is a blatantly unconstitutional bill that will cause enormous stress and harm to Alabama families and cost Alabama taxpayers millions of dollars to defend.”

Carmarion D. Anderson-Harvey, the Alabama state director for the HRC, added that lawmakers “recklessly passed a bill that goes directly against the best advice of the medical community and intrudes on the rights of parents and families to make their own medical decisions,” urging Ivey to veto legislation. 

A federal judge temporarily blocked a similar ban on gender-affirming care in Arkansas last year.

Meanwhile, the Alabama Senate passed an anti-Trans bathroom bill, which would keep Trans youth from using gendered facilities that match their gender identity in schools. A last-minute amendment would also keep educators from discussing gender identity and sexual orientation in classrooms, similar to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed last week. It will go back to the House for approval. 

So far this year, state lawmakers have proposed over 240 anti-LGBTQ+ bills – many of which target Trans youth – according to Freedom for All Americans, a bipartisan campaign to win LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections nationwide, legislative tracker.

Texas has been at the forefront of banning gender-affirming care after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott issued a directive that required the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to investigate gender-affirming care as “child abuse,” while also mandating licensed professionals and general citizens report the procedures or face “criminal penalties.” It followed Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s formal opinion concluding that performing certain “sex-change” procedures on children is “child abuse” under Texas law. 

Two Texas courts have issued temporary injunctions, barring the DFPS from investigating parents and families of Trans youth.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Alabama, Lambda Legal, Transgender Law Center, and Cooley LLP announced today plans to file a legal challenge to the legislation in Alabama that would criminalize medical professionals who provide gender-affirming care to transgender adolescents with up to 10 years in prison.

“Our representatives have been hearing from medical experts, parents, transgender youth, and other advocates for the past three years in an attempt to stop this harmful bill from passing. But despite this strong opposition, the Legislature seems determined to move ahead with this shameful effort to prevent parents and kids from deciding the best course of treatment for themselves,” said Kaitlin Welborn, staff attorney for the ACLU of Alabama. “If the state moves forward in passing this unconstitutional bill, we’ll see them in court.”

A federal court has blocked Arkansas from enforcing a similar law that was passed last year. A state court in Texas has also blocked the state from investigating parents of transgender adolescents receiving gender-affirming care for child abuse.

“If passed and signed into law, Alabama will have the most deadly, sweeping, and hostile law targeting transgender people in the country,” said Chase Strangio, deputy director for Trans Justice with the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project. “The way to reduce harm to trans youth is to provide them with gender-affirming health care where it is medically indicated. This bill takes that lifesaving treatment option off the table and makes it a felony. Moving forward with this bill will be deadly for trans youth, push doctors out of a state that has a shortage of medical providers, hurt Alabama’s economy, and subject the state to costly litigation.”

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Alabama

Alabama House passes ‘bathroom bill’ for schools

“Anti-LGBTQ+ elected officials are using this divisive political strategy to harm kids who are simply trying to navigate their adolescence”

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Alabama State Capitol Building (Photo credit: State of Alabama)

MONTGOMERY, Al. – Lawmakers in Alabama’s House of Representatives Tuesday passed a bill that would ban Trans students from using bathrooms and other gendered facilities that align with their gender identity. 

H.B. 322, also referred to as a “bathroom bill,” would require public K-12 schools in the state to designate all gendered facilities, including bathrooms and locker rooms, based on “biological sex.” 

The legislation passed the House by a vote of 74-24 on party lines after a heated floor debate that lasted two hours. Republicans argued the bill would address a public school problem, while Democrats called it an attack on Trans youth. 

The bill now heads to the GOP-majority state Senate. If passed and signed by the governor, the legislation will likely face legal challenges as similar bills and policies in the U.S. have faced lawsuits. 

“Right now, you’ve got males who are dressing up as females, who are identifying themselves as females, and wanting to use the female bathrooms,” said state Rep. Scott Stadthagen (R-9), the prime sponsor of the bill, adding that the legislation’s main goal is to protect the privacy of girls in Alabama schools.

But opponents to the bill said it was “demonizing an already vulnerable population.”

“It’s all under the guise of protecting children just to win cheap political points. That’s all it is,” said state Rep. Neil Rafferty (D-54). 

Rafferty also noted that “without targeting vulnerable youth that are already having issues with suicide, mental illness, bullying.”

Stadthagen charged that sexual assaults have happened in school bathrooms, but he could not answer a question asking how many of those attackers were Trans.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ organization, condemned the bill’s passage, saying it would “further discriminate against students who already feel unsafe in school, suffer academically, and have a higher likelihood of dropping out of school.”

“Anti-LGBTQ+ elected officials across Alabama are using this divisive political strategy to harm kids who are simply trying to navigate their adolescence — kids who already face relentless targeting and increased levels of discrimination in their community, as evidenced by the record incidents of fatal violence against transgender and gender non-binary people in 2021,” said Carmarion D. Anderson-Harvey, Alabama state director for the HRC, in a statement

She added: “Study after study has shown that these bills make transgender kids afraid of using the bathroom and negatively impact their education and livelihood.”

On Tuesday, the same day the Alabama House passed its “bathroom bill,” a federal appeals court heard arguments in a case involving a Trans student who is suing his former Florida school for its bathroom policy that he argues violated his civil rights and federal nondiscrimination law.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a Virginia school board’s appeal to reinstate its Trans bathroom ban, leaving in place a lower court’s decision that found the rule was unconstitutional. 

Only North Carolina and Tennessee have passed “bathroom bills,” both of which immediately faced challenges in court — North Carolina’s was partially repealed, according to the HRC.
In 2017, the Associated Press projected the law could have cost North Carolina $3.76 billion over 10 years from the loss of business opportunities after widespread condemnation of the bill.

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Alabama

Alabama Senate committee oks bill to criminalize Docs treating Trans kids

The language is clearly targeting Trans female youth. The bill will now head to the full Senate for consideration

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Alabama State Capitol Building (Photo Credit: State of Alabama)

MONTGOMERY – In a unanimous vote Wednesday the Alabama Senate Health Committee passed a bill that would make treating Trans kids by a healthcare provider in the state a felony.

Senate Bill 184 would make it a Class C felony, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, for anyone to provide gender-affirming medical treatments to children under the age of 19.

The bill would also ban operations that would alter a child’s sex, medical procedures that Alabama’s physicians who treat transgender youth say aren’t currently being done.

The bill’s sponsor, state Senator Shay Shelnutt also inserted language into the legislation requiring that public and others 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.”

The language is clearly targeting Trans female youth. The bill will now head to the full Senate for consideration. 

“A growing body of evidence, healthcare professionals, and every major medical and mental health across the country agree: gender-affirming health care is consistently associated with lower suicide risk among transgender and nonbinary youth,” said Sam Ames, Director of Advocacy and Government Affairs at The Trevor Project. “It’s clear that this ban is not about those trans and nonbinary youth; it’s about political gain. Lawmakers genuinely concerned about the lives of young Alabamians should be listening to the experts — doctors, families, and trans youth themselves — and put a stop to this bill.”

“If passed and signed into law, this bill would be a gross overreach of government power,” said Dillon Nettles, policy and advocacy director for the ACLU of Alabama in a statement after the vote. “The Legislature is not elected to be the definitive medical authority in the state. Let parents and kids decide what is best for themselves, in consultation with their doctor and current medical best practices.”

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Alabama

Conservative groups attack proposed Alabama capital city’s LGBTQ law

The groups allege that the law would require Christians to violate their religious beliefs or face fines under certain circumstances

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Approach to the Alabama State Capitol (Blade file photo)

MONTGOMERY – The Alabama capital’s City Council is being urged to reject a proposed ordinance that would make sexual orientation and gender identity protected classes under the law.  Matthew Clark, the Executive Director of the conservative Alabama Center for Law and Liberty sent a letter on behalf of his group and six allied organizations asking the Council to abandon a vote implementing the ordnance.

According to the letter, the groups allege that the law would require Christians to violate their religious beliefs or face fines under certain circumstances. Prominent among the other signatures is Mathew D. Staver, Chairman of Liberty Counsel which the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as an extremist anti-LGBTQ hate group.

The SPLC, which has its headquarters in Montgomery, writes; “The Liberty Counsel has also been active in the battle against same-sex marriage and hate crimes legislation, which it claimed in a 2007 news release to be “’thought crimes’ laws that violate the right to freedom of speech and of conscience” and will “have a chilling effect on people who have moral or religious objections to homosexual behavior.” In that same release, the Liberty Counsel falsely claimed that the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyo., had nothing to do with homosexuality, but instead was “a bungled robbery.”

In the letter Clark noted; ““As we read the ordinance, churches could be fined if they refuse to allow transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice, and they might be fined if they refused to let same-sex couples use their facilities for weddings,” Clark said. “They could also be fined if they declined to hire non-ministerial personnel, such as facility managers or secretaries, whose sexual orientation or gender identity contradicts the tenants of the church’s faith.”

“Christian schools, small business owners, and homeowners are also in the crosshairs. Schools could face liability if they decline to let transgender students use the locker rooms of their choice,” Clark said. “Small business owners like Jack Phillips [referring to Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission] could face liability. And homeowners who list their homes on Airbnb could be fined if they declined to let a same-sex couple engage in sexual activities in their home that violate the tenants of their faith.”

Clark then warned the City Council that if it passes the ordinance, litigation could result and the City would likely lose.

The Montgomery Advertiser reported last month that City Mayor Steven Reed said a council vote in favor of the LGTBQ nondiscrimination ordinance that’s now being drafted in Montgomery would send a message. 

“There are signals that communities can send, and this is an important signal not only to those residents that live here right now but people all over the country that have maybe one idea of Alabama and Montgomery, and we want to show them that there’s a different reality here,” he said. 

Reed and his team have been working with the Human Rights Campaign and other advocacy groups to draft an ordinance that would expand protections for LGBTQ residents in the state’s capital city. The proposed measure, which would specifically target discrimination in government, employment and housing based on sexual orientation or gender identity the Advertiser reported.

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