Alabama lawmakers pass teen drug ban

MONTGOMERY, ALA. – Alabama lawmakers passed sweeping legislation on Thursday to ban sex-affirming drugs for transgender youth, as well as a separate measure that sets out school bathroom regulations and bans teaches early in class about gender identity and sexuality – a bill critic dubbed “Don’t Say Gay.”

The legislation is now in the hands of Republican Governor Kay Ivey for her to consider as Alabama becomes the latest red state to seek legislation and policies aimed at young transgender people. Ivey, who is running for office, did not say whether she would sign the measures.

The House of Representatives voted 66-28, largely along party lines, to grant final approval to legislation that would require doctors to prescribe drugs that block puberty or puberty hormones to aid in the transition. of anyone under the age of 19 constitutes a felony. punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The bill would also ban sex reassignment surgeries, although doctors have told lawmakers these surgeries are not usually performed on minors.

Representative Neil Rafferty, the only openly gay member of the Alabama Legislature, appeared to be struggling to maintain his composure as lawmakers headed for the vote.

“This is wrong,” Rafferty said. “You all sit there and campaign for the family as the foundation of our nation … but what this bill is doing is completely undermining that. It completely erodes rights. of the family, the right to health and the right to access health care.”

Republican Representative Wes Allen of Troy, the sponsor of the House bill, compared the legislation to legislation that does not allow children to drink, smoke or get tattoos until they are adults.

“It’s about protecting these minors. It’s not about adults. Their minds aren’t fully developed to make decisions about these drugs and surgeries,” he said. speak.

Representative Chris England, who holds the position of Chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party, said the measure targets already vulnerable children and essentially tells them they are not welcome in Alabama.

“You’re saying this is about children. It’s not. What it’s saying is scoring political points and using those kids as collateral for damage,” England said.

The bill would also require school counselors, nurses and others to tell parents if a child discloses that they believe they are transgender.

An Ivey spokesman said the governor’s office was reviewing the bill.

Jeff Walker, whose 15-year-old daughter Harleigh is transgender, said he was “angry” when he watched a live stream of the House vote. Walker said he wants the governor, “to know she doesn’t have to sign this sheet.”

“Everything we did today hurt Alabama families,” Walker said.

Arkansas passed a similar law in 2021, but it was adjourned by the courts. Advocacy groups in Alabama have vowed to quickly challenge the measure if Ivey signs it into law.

In a written statement, Chase Strangio, deputy director of Trans Justice with the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project, called the Alabama measure “the most murderous, far-reaching, and hateful law targeting transgender people in the country.”

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Thursday that the US Justice Department has warned states such laws and policies may violate the Constitution and federal law.

Lawmakers passed separate legislation on Thursday related to public bathrooms in schools and discussions about gender and sexual identity in the elementary grades.

Senators voted May 26 to pass legislation that would require K-12 students to use only public bathrooms and locker rooms that match the gender on their original birth certificate, instead of their current gender identity. Senate Republicans also added language similar to a Florida law that critics called the “Don’t Say Gay” measure.

Alabama language will “prohibit classroom instruction or discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity” for students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Alabama’s proposal goes beyond Florida’s law, including grades K-3.

Republican Representative Scott Stadthagen of Hartselle said: “Kids in kindergarten through fifth grade should not be introduced to sexual orientation and gender identity, and if so, that may come from their parents. .

Stadthagen said he introduced the bathroom bill after hearing that schools were threatened with lawsuits when they offered to allow students to use faculty bathrooms.

Representative Napoléon Bracy, a Democrat from Prichard, called the abrupt addition of Florida-style language “purely political” as lawmakers call for primaries in May.

“We cannot continue to bully and target people for who they are,” Bracy said.

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