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House Republicans Pass First National Bill Targeting Transgender Youth

Though the bill is unlikely to advance in the Senate, it represents an ominous moment in anti-trans legislation.

Rep.-elect Lauren Boebert walks to the House Chamber during the third day of elections for Speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 5, 2023, in Washington, D.C.

On Friday, House Republicans passed the so-called “Parents Bill of Rights Act,” which would force educators to misgender trans students and out them to their parents.

The bill is the first federal legislation that targets transgender youth and is the most recent push by Republicans to advance a right-wing education agenda in a countrywide legislative session that has targeted trans children.

HR 5 — which Democrats have dubbed the “Politics Over Parents Act” — was introduced by Republican Rep. Julia Letlow. The amendments that would force educators to out trans children were proposed by Rep. Lauren Boebert (R), and would require schools to notify parents if their child is using restrooms that don’t align with the sex they were assigned at birth.

House members voted 213-208 for passage of the bill, with all Democrats and five Republicans voting against the legislation.

“The backers of this bill claim to be advancing it on behalf of parents, but when you actually listen to what parents want, it’s clear that that’s not what they’re doing at all,” said David Stacy, Government Affairs Director of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). “This is purely about politics. All this bill would do is hamstring local school officials, teachers and parents from making important decisions about what’s right for their students.”

The White House has also rejected the legislation in its current form, saying that “the bill does not actually help parents support their children at school.” The bill is unlikely to pass in the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats.

Four hundred and thirty anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the country this legislative session, with states like Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Utah having passed the worst anti-trans legislation this year, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

House Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-New Mexico) explained in a statement that HR 5 is “modeled after bills passed at the state level, which have censored the teaching of American history, allowed book bans, and violated the safety and privacy of transgender and LGBTQ+ students.”

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce is also currently considering a federal trans sports ban, which the Human Rights Campaign is expecting to move out of committee in the next few weeks.

“The House Committee on Education and Workforce is clearly signaling that preventing transgender and non-binary youth from playing sports with their friends is their number one education priority, despite nationwide teacher shortages, gun violence in schools, and slumping test scores, to name a few educational issues,” the organization said in a statement.

While the majority of anti-trans bills are currently being introduced in state legislatures, transgender advocates say that these proposals are part of a national campaign against trans rights, and are an attempt to mobilize the GOP’s voting base before the 2024 election.

In a January campaign video, former President Trump vowed to enact federal legislation that would legally recognize only two genders. Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who is seen as a contender for the GOP’s 2024 presidential nominee, has targeted trans youth, drag performances, and the teaching of LGBTQ topics in schools.

Attacks on trans rights have become “the culture war hot button issue,” transgender activist Erin Reed said in a tweet. “It’s going to be wild to see anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ+ bills being debated in Congress over the course of the next few year… it’s surreal now to see the beginnings of this reach Congressional Debate.”

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