The Ugly Anti-LGBTQ Bills at the Louisiana Legislature

Several Louisiana legislators
think the best use of their time during the sixty days of the 2022 regular session is to score political points at the expense of children.

There are at least two anti-trans bills in the Louisiana legislature this year. Last year, similar bills were killed, either by being pulled from consideration by the author because of his inability to find support or by failing to override the veto by Governor Edwards. Unfortunately, they have now returned to make life harder for children who identify with a gender other than what they were assigned at birth. 

The first is the misnamed “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.”Under this legislation, trans students would be systematically barred from participating in school sports with students of the same gender. This legislation does nothing to make for a fairer playing field for female athletes – it doesn’t provide for schools to fund women’s sports equally or to ensure comparable access to fields, locker rooms, uniforms, equipment or coaches.

Worse, SB44 would have a direct, negative impact on the health and well-being of children and of the adults they will become. Activist Natalie Elethorp says, “As a trans woman who tried out for a NCAA regulated sport and played intramural sports after transitioning at a Louisiana University, SB44 would have prevented me from participating with my peers by singling me out instead of allowing me the same privileges.”

The American Medical Association submitted a friend of the court brief to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals which stated that“barring transgender females from participating in school-sponsored organized sports consistent with their gender identity frustrates the treatment of gender dysphoria by preventing transgender females from living openly in accordance with their true gender…In order for transgender females to live their lives fully in accordance with their gender identity, they must be able to publicly identify and compete as female athletes.”

Another entirely misnamed anti-trans bill is Gabe Firment’s“Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) ActHouse Bill 570 would prevent medical professionals from providing transition-related care to trans minors, or from referring patients to another doctor to receive such care, claiming that “[t]he risks of gender transition procedures far outweigh any benefit.” 

That is false. Evidence-based care that is endorsed by major medical organizations including the American Medical Association and American Academy of Pediatrics is essential for improving the physical and mental health of transgender people.Research from Columbia University clearly shows that “legislative attempts to ban or limit access to this critical model of medical care endangers the health and well-being of transgender and nonbinary youth.”

Further, this bill would ban treatment for transgender minors even if there is parental consent or physician advice.Criminalizing parents and doctors and having the government taking health care decisions from the ones most affected is just the sort of “foolish and unnecessary government overreach” he testified against during the hearing on Covid-19 vaccine mandates in schools.

The above are bad bills but the ugliest so far was one that was filed on Thursday. Louisiana Representative Dodie Horton has decided to bring the “Don’t Say Gay” movement to Louisiana with HB 837. Her bill would prohibit any teacher, school employee, other presenter or others (which could include students themselves) from talking about their LGBTQ families and bar classroom discussions about any “topics of sexual orientation or gender identity in any classroom discussion or instruction in kindergarten through grade eight.” As a point of information, the similar bill out of Florida only bars such discussions to grade three.

Sarah Jane Guidry, the Executive Director of Forum for Equality, released the following statement, “HB 837 by Representative Horton will have devastating real-world consequences especially for LGBTQ youth who already experience higher rates of bullying and suicide. Lawmakers should be providing more support for these students instead of trying to force LGBTQ people back into the closet by policing identity or stopping kids from talking about their same-sex parents. We are parents, students, and teachers. We are your family.”

When you add HB 837 to the bill that would require all instruction materials used in classrooms to be posted on the school’s website (HB 75) or the one that would prohibit any lessons which instruct that certain races or sexes are privileged or oppressed (HB 747), there will certainly be a chilling effect on students, teachers and learning itself in Louisiana.

Elected officials should focus on the very real issues facing families this legislative session and not waste time and resources on bills that target vulnerable members of our community, especially our youth.

Natalie Ross’ name has been updated to Natalie Elethorp. 


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