The First Wave of Anti-LGBTQ Legislation has Arrived and it’s Worse Than you Think

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The 2020 legislative session has just begun and we are already facing a massive wave of anti-LGBTQ bills. While we see positive movement on nondiscrimination in Virginia, elsewhere across the country lawmakers are preoccupied with targeting transgender people, including: attacking transgender athletes, undermining best practices for transgender youth healthcare, and using religion to discriminate.

Here’s a snapshot of those states that have contributed to the first wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation that are designed to openly restrict people from living their best lives.

  • Colorado – Ban on recommended medical care for transgender youth
  • Florida – Ban on recommended medical care for transgender youth, repeal employment protections, repeal conversion therapy bans, enable conversion therapy in homes
  • Iowa – Target transgender youth and adults, use religion to discriminate
  • Kentucky – Religious discrimination in healthcare
  • Oklahoma – Ban on recommended medical care for transgender youth
  • South Dakota – Ban on recommended medical care for transgender youth
  • Tennessee – Adoption discrimination, allow businesses to discriminate, defend school districts with anti-transgender policies, ban transgender students from participating in sports

Seven states have targeted attacks on LGBTQ people, and yes, it’s worse than you could ever imagine.

We’re seeing three disturbing themes in these anti-LGBTQ bills: 1) Banning best practice medical care for transgender youth. 2) Preventing transgender youth athletes from participating in sports 3) Using religion as a sword to discriminate.

Banning best practice medical care for transgender youth
Transgender children, like any children, have the best chance to thrive when they are
supported and can get the health care they need. These bills would take that away from transgender youth in South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Colorado. Every year, South Dakota lawmakers zero in on transgender children and every year the transgender community is hurt, while meaningful problems go unaddressed. The Colorado, Florida, and Missouri bills would even make it a crime for medical professionals to provide these treatments. This is one of the most extreme political attacks on transgender people in recent memory. Not only does it display a fundamental ignorance about transgender children, it also goes against medical care best practices for transgender youth backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and other leading medical authorities.

Preventing transgender youth athletes from participating in sports
Discrimination has no place in sports. When LGBTQ+ people are systematically excluded from sport, they are denied not only an essential component of their physical, mental and emotional well-being, but also access to a community and social support. Tennessee’s extreme bill would not only prevent young transgender athletes from participating in sports that align with their gender identity, it would also penalize any coach or school official that allows them to do so. The bill punishes individuals and school districts who let transgender athletes participate by fining them $10,000, banning them from holding public office, school administrative or principal positions, and making the school ineligible to receive state funds.

Using religion as a sword to discriminate
Religious freedom is the birthright of every American and protected by the Constitution. But some state politicians are promoting directives that would allow people to use religion as a weapon to harm and discriminate against others and ignore laws meant to protect everyone. Whether it’s hospitals, adoption agencies, or businesses, using religion as an excuse to refuse service to anyone is blatantly wrong. Kentucky already has a law that allows providers to refuse to participate in abortion care, and SB90 goes further. It would allow refusals of transition-related care, counseling, or even allow an insurance company to refuse payment for a treatment based on their personal religious beliefs.

Last year, Tennessee was able to defeat multiple anti-LGBTQ bills. However, some of 2019’s bills have carried over to 2020, and one is on its way to the Governor already. This bill, SB1304, allows any adoption agency, even those receiving federal funding, to discriminate against the LGBTQ community.

There are other anti-LGBTQ bills being filed as well, some that focus on child welfare and others that remove the ability of local cities and counties to pass laws that protect LGBTQ people. All of these bills come from the same idea: whether LGBTQ people should be treated fairly in all areas of life or if we can be unfairly fired, kicked out of a restaurant, denied an apartment, or denied the health care we need just because of who we are.

So how can you stand up and fight back against these waves of attacks?

State equality groups are the movement for equality’s best hope to beat back attempts to punish LGBTQ people for simply existing.

After Tennessee’s adoption discrimination bill passed the senate, Tennessee Equality Project began sending activist to the governor’s office with calls and emails. Equality South Dakota and Freedom Oklahoma are mobilizing supporters to email their representatives ahead of the vote. Equality Florida put out a press release calling out state lawmakers for introducing a slate of eight anti-LGBTQ measures. Florida activists were quickly able to eliminate one of the threatening bills, but are continuing to fight the remaining seven.

It’s going to be a long legislative session.

We’re actively tracking the next wave of attacks while fighting to kill bad bills that have already been filed. Equality Federation member groups are on the ground in states across the country defending against these bills. Take action today, and join Equality Federation’s email list to make sure you get the most up-to-date information about how to protect LGBTQ people.

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