After a series of major legislative victories, Republican lawmakers in red states have unveiled new efforts to target LGBTQ Americans.
According to tallies released by the American Civil Liberties Union and Freedom for All Americans, dozens of states are considering more than 200 anti-LGBTQ bills this year, a historic attack on queer Americans before the midterm elections.
The explosion of bills comes on the heels of several victories for conservative groups that have long worked to roll back LGBTQ rights. Just last month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed legislation known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill into law. It prohibits instruction of sexual orientation and gender identity in most elementary school classrooms.
Many states have jumped on the GOP-led train of anti-trans legislation meant to keep young trans kids off sports teams or prevent doctors from providing health care to trans minors.
Critics have accused lawmakers of feeding into conservative dog whistles and causing undue harm to already vulnerable youth.
The bills also fly in the face of the medical community. The American Academy of Pediatrics called Arkansas’ effort to limit health care to trans youth a “dangerous” attempt to politicize medicine that put “politicians rather than pediatricians in charge.” Doctors in Florida came out in force against the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, saying the law would hurt kids’ mental health and further stigmatize LGBTQ youth.
But that hasn’t stopped many Republican-led legislatures from unveiling copycat bills. Just weeks after DeSantis signed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, Alabama lawmakers approved sweeping legislation that would do the same thing as well as a bill that would outlaw gender-affirming medications for trans kids. Doctors who prescribe puberty blockers or hormones in the state would face up to 10 years in prison.
Chase Strangio, the deputy director for Trans Justice at the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project, said the Alabama measure was the “most deadly, sweeping and hostile law” targeting trans people in the nation.
In response, civil rights groups have filed lawsuits against such legislation and won several short-term term injunctions while cases work through the courts. But queer kids say that even if the laws are only in effect for a short period of time, they are already causing lasting damage.