MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama lawmakers on Thursday approved sweeping legislation to outlaw gender-affirming medications for transgender kids and advanced separate legislation to prohibit classroom instruction on sexual and gender identity in early grades — a measure that critics have dubbed “Don’t Say Gay.”
Alabama House of Representatives approved legislation making it a felony punishable with up to 10 years imprisonment for doctors who prescribe hormones, puberty blocks, or surgery that aids in gender transition for people younger than 19. Now, the bill goes to Alabama Governor. Kay Ivey will sign the bill as Alabama is now the latest state in which legislation and policies that target trans youth are being discussed.
Rep. Neil Rafferty was the Alabama Legislature’s only openly homosexual member. He seemed to be having trouble controlling his anger as lawmakers moved on to the next step.
“This bill should not pass,” Rafferty said. “This is wrong. Y’all sit here and campaign on family … but what this bill is, is totally undermining family rights, health rights and access to health care.”
Republican Rep. Wes Allen from Troy was the sponsor of the House’s bill. He argued that young transgender people aren’t old enough to take decisions on gender-affirming medication.
“Their brains are not developed to make the decisions long term about what these medications and surgeries do to their body,” Allen said.
Rep Chris England is also the chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party. He stated that the measure targeted already vulnerable children, and basically told them they were not welcome in Alabama.
“You’re saying this is about children. It’s not. What it is about is scoring political points and using those children as collateral damage,” England said.
This bill also requires school counselors, nurses, and other professionals to notify parents if their child identifies themselves as transgender.
Arkansas had a similar ban on medication, but the court halted it. Advocacy groups promised to challenge quickly the Alabama law if it was signed.
“If passed and signed into law, Alabama will have the most deadly, sweeping, and hostile law targeting transgender people in the country,” Chase Strangio, deputy director for Trans Justice with the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project, said in a statement.
Jen Psaki spokeswoman for the White House told reporters on Thursday that the U.S. Department of Justice had warned the states about policies and laws violating the Constitution.
“Today’s vote in Alabama will only serve to harm kids,” she said.
Alabama Senate passed separate legislation regarding public school bathrooms, and early grade discussions about gender identity and gender.
Sen. John McCain and Lisa Murkowski voted 26-5 in favor of legislation requiring K-12 students to use only multiperson restrooms or locker rooms that correspond to their birth gender.
Republicans in the Senate also added language similar to a law in Florida that critics called the “Don’t Say Gay” measure.
The Alabama language would “prohibit classroom instruction or discussion on sexual orientation or gender identity for students in kindergarten through the fifth grade in public K-12 schools.”
The Alabama proposal goes further than Florida’s law, which extends to the third grade.
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