by Henry Berg-Brousseau •
HB 322 Bans K-12 Students From Using Bathrooms and School Facilities Consistent With Gender Identity, and Enacts “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” Provisions Similar to Recent Florida Law
Governor Ivey signed House Bill 322, bans K-12 students from using bathrooms and school facilities consistent with gender identity and enacts“Don’t Say Gay or Trans” provisions in grades K-5. In response to this discriminatory move, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — condemned the governor’s action that needlessly harms transgender kids and benefits no one.
House Bill 322, passed on the final day of the legislative session, puts Alabama in direct contravention of federal law and will immediately spur litigation which Alabama taxpayers will be funding for years.
Human Rights Campaign Alabama State Director Carmarion D. Anderson-Harvey issued the following statement in reaction to Governor Ivey’s signature:
“Governor Ivey should be ashamed of the action she has taken today to target trans kids in Alabama for exclusion and discriminatory treatment. This legislation helps no one and no constituency that stands to benefit from this. But LGBTQ+ kids, especially transgender kids, will be harmed by this law. They’ll be forced to bear the cost of further discrimination -- discrimination that already causes transgender youth to feel unsafe in school – just because self-serving politicians chose to use their existence to score political points. Ivey’s signature on this horrid bill is an embarrassment to herself, her administration, and the entire state of Alabama.”
Across the country, anti-equality politicians are working to pass bills to discriminate against and disrupt the lives of transgender people. By making it impossible for doctors to provide care for their patients, transgender youth are denied the age-appropriate, best practice, medically necessary, gender-affirming care that a new study just found reduces the risk of moderate or severe depression by 60% and suicidality by 73%. According to data from the Trevor Project, 42% of LGBTQ+ youth nationwide seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth. The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1,000 child welfare organizations released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ+ people, and transgender youth in particular.
Since the reviled HB2 was passed, and subsequently partially repealed, in North Carolina, Tennessee is the only state to have passed legislation mandating anti-transgender discrimination in bathrooms. Both of these “bathroom bills'' were immediately challenged in court. HB2 was itself challenged in federal court before its partial repeal. Should Alabama pass this discriminatory legislation, it will put schools in a position of having to choose between complying with federal law, including Title IX, and complying with discriminatory state law.
While “bathroom bills'' were very popular in 2016, the international condemnation heaped upon HB2 dissuaded many other states — including Texas — from advancing their own legislation. The Associated Press projected that HB2 passed in 2016 could have cost North Carolina $3.76 billion over 10 years from the loss of business opportunities and impact the lives of countless students. Furthermore, legislation attacking transgender refuses to serve the major interests and needs of communities and families, who now pay the price as the consequence of failed leadership across the state. Transgender youth are denied their right to a public education when they’re prevented from accessing restroom facilities consistent with their gender identity, and “bathroom bills” are a violation of both Title IX and the U.S. Constitution.
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