The Alabama state legislature passed a measure on Thursday that would ban transgender students in public schools from using restrooms that correspond to their gender identities. If the bill is signed into law by the state’s Republican governor, it would also restrict teachers from discussing sexual orientation or gender in K-5 classrooms.
The bill originally only included restroom restrictions for transgender youth. Republican lawmakers who sponsored and supported the discriminatory bill did so under the guise of protecting children, specifically young girls.
However, numerous studies have shown that there are no dangers at all when it comes to allowing transgender students to use restrooms that correspond to their gender identities. In fact, the opposite is true: Restrictive bathroom bills actually endanger trans students, as transgender children face higher rates of harassment, sexual assault and violence when they are forced to use the incorrect restrooms.
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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Alabama condemned the legislation, describing it as being discriminatory and “in violation of the United States Constitution and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act.”
“This legislation is part of a systematic and growing attack on trans people, particularly trans youth, in all aspects of life,” the organization said in a statement.
Democratic lawmakers lambasted the Republican-sponsored legislation as being cruel to trans students.
“We’re turning into bullies to these kids and it’s not a good feeling,” said Rep. Napoleon Bracy (D).
As the bill was being debated, lawmakers added another amendment at the last minute — a rider that would ban teachers in K-5 classrooms from discussing issues related to sexuality or gender identity, similar to the “Don’t Say Gay” legislation that was recently signed into law in the neighboring state of Florida.
Sally Smith, executive director of the Alabama Association of School Boards, said that the amendment wasn’t necessary, as such topics aren’t brought up in those grades to begin with. But the amendment would still be harmful to LGBTQ kids, she added, as it “could make it even more difficult for school faculty to create safe environments for some students and families.”
The bill now goes to Gov. Kay Ivey’s (R) desk for consideration. Based on recent political ads from her campaign that target trans kids in the state, there’s a high likelihood that she will sign the bill into law.
This week, the Alabama legislature also passed a bill that would criminalize the provision of gender affirming care to transgender youth — treatment that can often be life-saving. If Ivey signs the bill into law, it would create the strictest regulations on such care in the country, banning treatments for individuals up to the age of 19 and punishing doctors and nurses who provide such care with up to 10 years in prison.
“If passed and signed into law, Alabama will have the most deadly, sweeping, and hostile law targeting transgender people in the country,” trans lawyer Chase Strangio said.