Major Health, Education, and Child Welfare Organizations Oppose Anti-LGBTQ State-Based Legislation

by Wyatt Ronan

Today, the nation’s leading child health and welfare groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1000 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 children in particular. In too many states, lawmakers are focusing on passing bills that attack our nation’s most vulnerable, instead of focusing on how to help the American people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The signers note: “As organizations committed to serving the best interests of all youth, we are deeply alarmed at the torrent of bills introduced in state legislatures around the country this year that would directly harm transgender people, and particularly transgender youth. These appalling proposals would compromise the safety and well-­being of the young people we all have the duty and obligation to support and protect. All of our nation’s children deserve equal protection and treatment when accessing health care, and when attending school. These anti-­transgender bills promote discrimination and do harm to students, their families, and their communities.”

While states should be focusing on finding ways to ensure that every young person has a chance to succeed, we are instead seeing a majority of states introducing harmful legislation that excludes, discriminates against, and outright harms transgender youth who are simply trying to navigate their adolescence. Anti-transgender sports bills are in search of a problem that does not exist and just the latest iteration of a years-long losing fight against equality. In fact, anti-equality legislators when challenged are unable to name any instances of alleged cheating in their states to gain a competitive edge. That is because there are none. The notion is preposterous, nonsensical, and impractical. Other legislation is attempting to deny medically necessary gender-affirming care that helps to mitigate the life-threatening anxiety, depression, and dysphoria that are disproportionately experienced by transgender youth. Amidst an epidemic of fatal violence against transgender people, it is imperative that we do everything in our power to foster a more inclusive, less discriminatory society that guarantees acceptance of and equality to all. I thank every child health and welfare organization for stepping up and speaking out against the anti-transgender legislation that would have a profound affect on our young people.

Alphonso David, Human Rights Campaign President

As organizations committed to serving the best interests of all youth, we are deeply alarmed at the torrent of bills introduced in state legislatures and in Congress this year that would directly harm transgender people, and particularly transgender youth. These appalling proposals would compromise the safety and well-being of the young people we all have the duty and obligation to support and protect.

All of our nation’s young people deserve equal protection and treatment when accessing health care, and when attending school and participating in extracurricular activities, including sports. These anti-transgender bills promote discrimination and do harm to students, their families, and their communities.

Since state legislatures began meeting this year, we have already seen more than 65 bills introduced seeking to deny transgender youths access to gender-affirming medical treatment, preventing them from participating in sports teams consistent with their gender identity and denying access to sex-segregated spaces that include restrooms and locker rooms. Similar legislation is even being pushed in the U.S. Congress.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality, is alarmed by the spate of anti-transgender legislation proposed across the country. We have found that less than a quarter of transgender and gender-expansive youth can definitely be themselves at school and only sixteen percent of transgender and gender-expansive youth feel safe at school. Every child deserves equal access to education, academic success, and a future in which they are empowered to fulfill their true potential, and these laws contravene that fundamental principle, which has long guided our nation’s education policy.

Transgender youth are already at a heightened risk for violence, bullying, and harassment. In addition, students who would be affected by these bills are among our most vulnerable to experiencing depression and engaging in self-harm, including suicide. These bills exacerbate those risks by creating an unwelcoming and hostile environment in places where students should feel the safest and most supported. Research has shown that when transgender youth have access to gender-affirming services, competent care and affirmation, their risk of depression, anxiety and other negative mental health outcomes is greatly reduced.

We stand in opposition to proposals that harm transgender youth, including limiting access to medically-necessary, best practice care, forbidding students from using the restroom at school consistent with their gender identity, and preventing transgender youth from playing sports alongside their peers. On behalf of our members and communities, we call on legislators across the country to reject these harmful measures.

Sincerely,

American Academy of Pediatrics

American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education

American Association of School Librarians

American Counseling Association

American Public Health Association

American School Counselor Association

American School Health Association

Association of Title IX Administrators

Child Welfare League of America

Mental Health America

National Association for College Admission Counseling

National Association of School Nurses

National Association of School Psychologists

National Association of Secondary School Principals

National Association of Social Workers

National Education Association

National PTA

Society of Pediatric Nurses

School Social Work Association of America

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