In the race to be the most anti-LGBTQ+ state in the union, Alabama is pulling ahead.
Gov. Kay Ivey (who, get this, is a Republican!) signed a law making the provision of gender-affirming care to anyone under age 19 a felony. Once the law goes into effect next month, doctors who provide this vital medical support could wind up spending 10 years in prison.
Finding she did not yet have her fill of hate for the day, Ivey also signed a ban on trans students from using restrooms that align with their gender identity at school AND a ban on ALL discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-5.
Last year, Alabama banned trans athletes from playing on sports teams. You know, just in case you thought this anti-LGBTQ+ rampage had come out of nowhere.
Make no mistake, the current wave of anti-LGBTQ+ bills sweeping the nation is coming soon to a government near you, if it hasn’t already. Any locality run by a Republican majority in the United States will find themselves subjected to anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.
In Michigan, where the House and the Senate are both controlled by Republicans, a recent “prayer” by a Republican senator Sen. Lana Theis went as follows: “Dear Lord, across the country we’re seeing in the news that our children are under attack. That there are forces that desire things for them other than what their parents would have them see and hear and know. Dear Lord, I pray for Your guidance in this chamber to protect the most vulnerable among us.”
Several Democrats, including Sen. Rosemary Bayer, Sen. Mallory McMorrow and Sen. Dayna Polehanki got up and walked out in protest.
Of course, Sen. Theis didn’t come right out and SAY that she was talking about LGBTQ+ people and those who dare treat LGBTQ+ people like fellow human beings worthy of love and respect, but everybody knows that’s what she meant.
Not that Republicans aren’t willing to come right out and make their accusations clear as day. A not insignificant number of Republicans believe that Democrats are pedophiles who drink the blood of babies they kill to stay young.
You might remember that 2016 story about Comet Ping Pong, a pizza parlor in Washington D.C. where conspiracy theorists claimed that Hillary Clinton was trafficking children in the basement to sexual abusers. Never mind that there was no evidence of this, let alone the fact that the place has no basement. A man eventually went there on a “rescue” mission armed with an assault rifle, which he fired. He went to prison.
It’s wild what people will believe. And it certainly doesn’t help when Fox News provides a megaphone for anti-LGBTQ+ garbage spewers to slander not only LGBTQ+ people, but also essentially all public school teachers as dangerous to children. As if teachers’ jobs aren’t hard enough, now they have to put up with being identified as the most heinous of child abusers.
It’s all part of the backlash against the gains LGBTQ+ people have made. Vilifying LGBTQ+ people has been politically expedient in the past, and the Republicans aren’t exactly the party of new ideas. So here we are.
When anti-LGBTQ+ laws like Alabama’s are passed, anything positive about LGBTQ+ people is essentially silenced. Books from school libraries that depict LGBTQ+ people as human beings are pulled from shelves, teachers become fearful of teaching about any LGBTQ+ historical figures, out LGBTQ+ teachers who have been a beacon of support and hope for so many LGBTQ+ students leave the profession. And the cries of “Pedophiles!” and “Child groomers!” is amplified and goes unchallenged.
“Alabama is now the epicenter of laws targeting LGBTQ+ youth across the country,” as Time magazine puts it. “Conservative state lawmakers have introduced at least 238 anti-LGBTQ bills in 2022 alone, roughly half of which specifically target trans people.”
That is alarming. No, it’s horrifying. It should make you feel ill. It should make you pay attention. It should make you vote these creeps out of office.
We already know that LGBTQ+ youth face higher rates of depression and suicide. It’s not because there’s something wrong with THEM, it’s because there’s something wrong with the amount of hatred, fear, and rejection they have to face on the daily.
If you are an LGBTQ+ youth and you want to talk to someone, visit https://www.thetrevorproject.org/get-help. There you will find links to chat, call, or text someone who will listen without judging you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You are loved and valued.