Montgomery, Ala. (AP) — Alabama lawmakers on Thursday approved sweeping legislation to outlaw gender-affirming drugs for transgender youth, as well as set rules about school bathrooms and sexual harassment. And a separate measure to restrict early classroom instruction on gender identity — a bill critics have dubbed “Don’t Say Gay.”
The law now goes to the Republican government’s Ivey for their consideration as Alabama becomes the latest red state to seek legislation and policies aimed at trans young people. Ivey, who is running for re-election, has not indicated whether she will sign off on the measures.
The House of Representatives voted 66-28, broadly along party lines, to give final approval to legislation that would prescribe puberty inhibitors or hormones to aid in the gender transition of anyone under the age of 19. for a doctor would be a felony. Violation will be punishable with imprisonment of up to 10 years. The bill would also ban gender-change surgery, although doctors told lawmakers that it is not typically performed on minors.
“It’s about the safety of these minors. It’s not about adults. Their brains aren’t fully developed to make these decisions on these drugs and surgeries,” said Republican Representative of Troy, sponsor of the House version of the bill. Wes Allen said.
He compared the law to laws that do not allow children to drink, smoke, or get tattoos until adulthood.
Neil Rafferty, the only openly gay member of the Alabama Legislature, appeared to struggle to maintain sobriety as lawmakers headed to the polls.
“That’s wrong,” said Rafferty. He said, “You are sitting there promoting family as the foundation of our nation…but what this bill is doing is completely weakening it. It is completely undermining the rights of the family, health rights and access to health care.”
Rep. Chris England, who serves as chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party, said the measure already targets vulnerable children and essentially tells them they are not welcome in Alabama.
“You’re saying it’s about the kids. This. It’s about scoring political points and using those kids as collateral damage,” England said.
The bill would also require school counselors, nurses and others to tell parents if a child discloses they believe they are transgender.
An Ivey spokeswoman said the governor’s office is reviewing the bill.
Jeff Walker, whose 15-year-old daughter Harley is transgender, said he was “outraged” by watching the livestream of the House vote. Walker said he wants the governor to “know that he doesn’t need to sign it.”
“All it did today hurt Alabama families,” Walker said.
Arkansas approved similar legislation in 2021, but was blocked by courts. Advocacy groups in Alabama have vowed to quickly challenge the measure if Ivey signs it into law.
In a written statement, Chase Strongio, deputy director of trans justice with the ACLU’s LGBTQ and HIV project, called Alabama’s measure “the deadliest, pervasive, and hostile law targeting transgender people in the country.”
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Thursday that the US Justice Department has warned states that such laws and policies could violate the Constitution and federal law.
Lawmakers on Thursday approved separate legislation relating to discussions of gender and sexual identity in public school bathrooms and in the early grades.
Senators voted 26-5 to approve the law, which states that K-12 students can only use gender-matched multiperson bathrooms and locker rooms on their original birth certificates, rather than their current gender identity. Huh. Republicans in the Senate also added language similar to a law in Florida that critics called a “Don’t Say Gay” measure.
The Alabama language “prohibits classroom instruction or discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity” for students in kindergarten through fifth grade. The Alabama proposal goes beyond Florida’s law, including grades K-3.
“Fifth-grade children in kindergarten should not be subjected to sexual orientation and gender identity, and if they are it may come from their parents,” said Republican Representative Scott Stathgen of Hartsell.
Stadthagen said he introduced the bathroom bill after hearing of schools threatening lawsuits when it offered students to use the faculty bathroom.
Representative Napoleon Bracey, a Democrat for Pritchard, called for an abrupt addition of Florida-style language as “entirely political” in the primaries as head of lawmakers in May.
“We can’t just continue to bully and target people because of who they are,” Bracey said.