Several health, education, and child welfare organizations have released an open letter denouncing efforts by lawmakers in various states to push through bills targeting LGBTQ people, and transgender children in particular, for discrimination.
The organizations, which together represent more than seven million youth-serving professionals and more than 1,000 child welfare organizations, voiced their opposition to nearly 70 different bills introduced in several state legislatures this year.
Examples of the bills that have been introduced include measures barring transgender student-athletes from competing in sports that match their gender identity, denying transgender youth access to gender-affirming health care, or restricting which facilities transgender students may use.
“As organizations committed to serving the best interests of all children, 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 children,” the letter reads. “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,” the letter continues. These anti-transgender bills promote discrimination and do harm to students, their families, and their communities.”
The organizations adding their names to the letter are: the American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; the American Counseling Association; the Association of Title IX Administrators; the Child Welfare League of America; the National Association of School Psychologists; the National Association of Secondary School Principals; the National Education Association; the National PTA; the Physician Assistants LGBT Caucus; and the Society of Pediatric Nurses.
The letter is being released as two anti-transgender bills are making their way to the desk of Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) after passing on largely party-line votes in the Republican-controlled legislature.
The two bills in question include a measure to prohibit people from changing the gender marker on their birth certificate to comport with their gender identity, and another to bar transgender females from competing in women’s sports.
Several LGBTQ organizations have asked Little to veto the bills, with Lambda Legal threatening to sue the state if Little signs the measures into law. They hope their letter serves as a warning to other state lawmakers not to follow Idaho’s example.
According to a 2018 report from the Human Rights Campaign focusing on transgender and gender-expansive youth, less than 25% of trans or gender-expansive youth report that they can “be themselves” at school, and only 16% say they feel safe at school.
HRC notes that transgender youth are already at heightened risk for violence, bullying, and harassment, and often experience higher rates of depression and are more likely to engage in self-harm if they cannot find an affirming environment in which to thrive.
“Harmful legislation, such as the torrent of anti-LGBTQ bills introduced across the country, deeply affect youth-serving professionals’ ability to do their job — caring for America’s young people,” HRC President Alphonso David said in a statement. “The vast majority of youth-serving professionals know when transgender and non-binary 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.”
“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,” the organizations conclude in their letter, echoing the findings of the HRC report.
“We stand in opposition to these shameful bills, and, on behalf of our members and communities, call on legislators across the country to reject these harmful measures if they reach their desks.”
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