transgender youth
A supporter holds a sign supporting trans youth during a rally in New York City's Washington Square Park. (Glynnis Jones/Shutterstock)

Transgender Youth Under Attack by State Legislators Across the Country

In an alarming new trend, a growing number of U.S. states have enacted laws designed to discriminate against or to remove rights from the nation’s transgender youth.

In Iowa, the Times-Republican has reported that legislators are mulling over passage of “Senate File 224, a bill that would prevent Iowa students from using a bathroom that did not match with their sex assigned at birth.”

According to reporter Katie Akin, “The bill would mandate that schools limit multiple-occupancy bathrooms to only ‘persons of the same biological sex.’” Akin added that “Single-user bathrooms designated as ‘male’ or ‘female’ would be subject to the same restrictions. The bill clarifies that it would not be ‘unfair or discriminatory practice’ to limit bathrooms to those of the same biological sex.”

In addition to students, the bill — which is still moving through the state Senate — would also impact adults working in or visiting the school, including teachers, administrative staff, parents and volunteers who assist with academic programs, such as Kristian Maul, who testified during the hearings.

“No one on the committee or in the public would want a 39-year-old adult man, a transgender man such as myself, using the girl’s restroom in an elementary school,” he said.

Showing the breadth of the problem across the country currently, Akin reported that “Freedom for All Americans, an LGBTQ advocacy group, has identified at least 20 other states which are considering bills targeting transgender individuals.”

The group pin-pointed at least seven anti-transgender proposals currently active in Iowa alone, more than any other state.

And the proposed laws don’t impact bathroom usage alone. Emily Wagster Pettus of the Associated Press has reported that “Mississippi is one of a dozen states with lawmakers proposing restrictions on athletics or gender-confirming health care for transgender minors this year.” 

This, even after President Joe Biden signed an executive order on the day he took office banning discrimination based on gender identity in school sports and elsewhere.

On Thursday, Feb. 11, The Dickinson Press reported that North Dakota’s House of Representatives passed House Bill 1298, a motion that “would restrict transgender high school athletes to competing in sports that correspond with their sex assigned at birth.”

Adam Willis reported that the bill passed “by a vote of 65-26, after close to an hour of debate between lawmakers over the state’s responsibilities to transgender individuals impacted by the legislation.”

Utah’s Deseret News has reported that a similar bill — HB302, titled Preserving Sports for Female Students — has just been sent to the House of Representatives in that state.

In Alabama, the Montgomery Advertiser has reported that state legislators are even attempting to pass a law that would criminalize transgender treatment for minors.

“The bill, sponsored by Rep. Wes Allen, R-Troy, would make it a Class C felony — punishable by one to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000 — to prescribe drugs like puberty blockers or perform medical procedures to minors who may be transitioning,” said reporter Brian Lyman.

And although it has reached state office, inclusive books for children have even come under fire in Utah. The Salt Lake Tribune’s Courtney Tanner has reported that an elementary school teacher “read a book about a transgender child to a class of third graders last month — which set off a backlash from parents. In response, the school district has now suspended a program aimed at introducing kids to more diverse and inclusive literature.”

Although groups like the ACLU and the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund are working to fight these laws and others like them, keeping children safe from legal discrimination, experts say there needs to be much more work on the state level, even after President Biden’s executive order was issued.

Putting it bluntly, Mara Keisling, executive director for the National Center for Transgender Equality said “[all] trans students deserve an educational environment that is safe, supportive and free from discrimination.” 


Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.


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