Chicago — Advocates expect the new year to see a new record for anti-LGBTQ legislation, as more than 100 bills targeting LGBTQ rights and queer life have been filed in 2023.
In the past few years, transgender students have been barred from a host of rights including competing in sports and receiving gender-affirming medical care. Other bills filed in Arizona, Arkansa, Montana, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia have targeted drag performers. The bills would ban minors from attending drag performances and seek to classify businesses that host them as a cabaret or a “sexually oriented business,” according to Yahoo News.
And as the anti-LGBTQ laws have been ramping up, there’s no signs of slowing down for the legislative efforts, according to Chase Strangio, deputy director of the American Civil Livery Union’s LGBT and HIV Project, who thinks the trend will continue.
“The rightward shift in state legislatures is really scary,” he said. “We’re seeing continued erosion and efforts to restrain and constrict and limit bodily autonomy across the board. … There’s just a lot that I think people are taking for granted, particularly people who live in states like New York and California and aren’t paying attention to what’s going on in states like Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.”
Advocates are particularly worried about an Oklahoma proposal that would bar transition-related care not only for minors, but for anyone under the age of 26.
State Sen. David Bullard, the Republican sponsoring the bill, is quoted as saying the care is a “permanent change in your body that cannot be reversed.”
“At the age of 21 you can drink, but at the end of the day if you decide to put the alcohol down, you can put the alcohol down,” Bullard told The Oklahoman. “But with this surgery, there is no going back. We just want to make sure that the brain is fully developed before we allow this kind of surgery, permanent thing to happen.”
In Tennessee, laws have been passed to bar trans student athletes from playing on school sports teams that match their gender identity and to prohibit gender-affirming medical care for children before puberty. In Florida, the “Don’t say Gay” bill, prohibiting classroom instruction on “sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through grade three, has made people feel unsafe, according to Brandon Wolf, press secretary for Equality Florida.
“We have over 9,000 teacher vacancies in Florida driven in part because of the character assassination they’ve been under over the last couple of years,” Wolf said. “Young people are telling us they’re really afraid. … They’re afraid that school isn’t safe for them anymore, and their families are wondering if they’re going to have to leave Florida to be able to raise their children in a state that respects them and treats them with dignity.”