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Alabama looks set to follow in Florida's footsteps after lawmakers passed legislation mimicking the controversial HB 1557 - or, as it's more commonly dubbed by critics, the 'Don't Say Gay' law.
Last month, despite fierce criticism and outrage from LGBTQ+ campaigners, governor of Florida Ron DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education bill (HB 1557), aka the 'Don't Say Gay' bill, meaning it will become law from 1 July.
The bill bars teachers from teaching topics related to sexual orientation or gender identity to children under 10, while urging school districts to avoid discussions surrounding LGBTQ+ topics 'when not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.'
It's already said to be having an impact, with reports of LGBTQ+ teachers in Florida quitting their jobs due to discrimination. Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Eric Adams urged members of the LGBTQ+ community in the state to move to the New York to escape the law.
Just a matter of days later, The Alabama House and Senate has approved legislation seemingly modelled off the controversial bill, setting precedence for a potential string of states that could soon follow suit.
The law sailed through the state’s House of Representatives with an overwhelming 70-26.
In Alabama, we just saw the worst day of attacks against transgender kids, with bills that would:— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) April 7, 2022
- Make gender-affirming care a felony
- Restrict school restroom access
- Force school staff to out LGBTQ+ kids
- Ban discussion of LGBTQ+ issues in schools
So we’re suing.
Alabama's legislation began as a 'bathroom bill' that sought to ban students from using the bathrooms, changing rooms and locker room that don't match their biological sex. However, the bill was amended last minute before yesterday's (7 April) vote to also include a ban on discussions surrounding LGBTQ+ topics 'in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards' in elementary schools.
"We just don't think it's appropriate to be talking about homosexuality and gender identity," Sen. Shay Shelnutt, R-Trussville, who made the amendment, said. "You know, they should be talking about math, science (and) writing, especially in elementary school."
Speaking out in a statement following the news, Sally Smith, executive director of Alabama Association of School Boards, said: “The amendment, while unnecessary, is unlikely to have any impact since sexual orientation and gender identity is not taught in Alabama public schools and the topic would generally not be age appropriate for classroom discussion at these grade levels.
"However, we are concerned that this amendment could make it even more difficult for school faculty to create safe environments for some students and families."
It didn't stop there, though. Just a few hours later, the Alabama state legislature also passed a piece of legislation that would make it a felony for healthcare providers to offer gender-affirming care to anyone under the age of 18. According to ABC News, the bill could see those convicted face up to 10 years behind bars.
Alabama and Florida aren't alone, with Georgia and Ohio also introducing their own versions of the anti-lgbt legislation. Meanwhile, Louisiana has gone even further by seeking to ban teachers and other school employees from discussing their own sexual orientation or gender identity with students.
Alabama is very likely to pass a felony health care ban, a bathroom ban and a "don't say LGBTQ" bill today. I am so angry at so many people and things. And just so sad. We will sue but that isn't a solution. We need massive movements in defense of trans lives.— Chase Strangio (@chasestrangio) April 7, 2022
Arizona has also introduced legislation that seemingly mimics another provision in Florida's 'Don't Say Gay' law, by banning school employees from keeping information about pupils' gender identity from parents, while states including Tennessee and Iowa have created legislation that's also similar.
Following the news, many critics have spoken out about how harmful the legislation is to LGBTQ+ youth, while further adding to the stigma of an already marginalised community.
Alabama's bill will now land on Gov. Kay Ivey's desk, where it must be signed to become law.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact the LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30, 10am–6pm Monday to Friday, or email [email protected]
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