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Last week in LGBTQ+ rights: Florida’s restroom law faces legal challenge

A judge blocked a Montana law banning gender-affirming care for trans youth.

By Will Fritz - October 03, 2023
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A placard supporting transgender rights is shown at the Stonewall Pride Parade and Street Festival, Saturday, June 17, 2023, in Wilton Manors, FL.
A placard supporting transgender rights is shown at the Stonewall Pride Parade and Street Festival, Saturday, June 17, 2023, in Wilton Manors, FL. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

This series is a weekly roundup of LGBTQ-related news, covering various laws and bans, as well as efforts to push back against them.

Florida restroom law targeted in lawsuit

A group of transgender and gender-nonconforming people are suing the state of Florida over a law that forces individuals to use restroom facilities designated for people of their sex assigned at birth.

Legislation signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in May requires people to use the bathroom for people of their birth sex, regardless of their actual gender identity, in public buildings, including schools, colleges and universities, and correctional and detention facilities.

The lawsuit, filed Sept. 29 in federal court in Florida, argues that the law causes irreparable harm to transgender, gender-nonconforming and intersex people by effectively banning their own perspective and behavior based on their gender identity and forcing them to “adopt the state’s view of sex and gender instead.”

The lawsuit mentions the National March to Protect Trans Youth, scheduled to take place in Orlando on Oct. 7, as an example of the plaintiffs’ concern for their ability to exercise their First Amendment rights in safety.

“Plaintiffs have sincere concerns about their ability to exercise their protest and expressive conduct rights as they traverse the state of Florida from October 2, 2023, through October 8, 2023,” reads the lawsuit. “Some Plaintiffs plan to use a restroom that aligns with their gender, which exposes them to arrest. Others wish to avoid that risk and plan to use non-affirming restrooms. Some will forgo multi-stall public restrooms altogether due to fear and discomfort.”

The lawsuit names Florida Attorney General Andrew Bain and other Florida and local officials as defendants.

The challenge to Florida’s restroom law is one of several lawsuits filed over the state’s restriction of the rights of trans people and other members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which bans discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in public school classrooms, has been the subject of repeated lawsuits, including one that was on hold amid settlement talks as of September.

The state is also facing a lawsuit over its restrictions on gender-affirming care.

Montana judge blocks gender-affirming care ban

A state judge in Montana has blocked a law restricting access to gender-affirming care for trans youth.

Judge Jason Marks of Montana’s Fourth Judicial District, based in Missoula, on Sept. 27 granted a preliminary injunction against the implementation of a law that was signed by Republican Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte in April. It prohibits gender-affirming surgical procedures, hormone treatments and puberty blockers for minors.

Marks wrote that the law is “unlikely to survive any level of constitutional review” and that it likely violates the plaintiffs’ right to privacy and negatively impacts their physical and mental health.

A pair of Montana families, along with medical providers and the ACLU of Montana, filed the lawsuit in May.

Marks’ ruling granting a preliminary injunction allows Montana youth to continue receiving gender-affirming care while the lawsuit plays out in court.

​​“Today’s ruling permits our clients to breathe a sigh of relief,” Akilah Deernose, executive director of the ACLU of Montana, said in a statement after the ruling. “But this fight is far from over. We look forward to vindicating our clients’ constitutional rights and ensuring that this hateful law never takes effect.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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