Last week in LGBTQ+ rights: Virginia’s new school policies target trans students
Lawyers seek to stop Kentucky’s ban on gender-affirming care, Sen. J.D. Vance introduces a bill to ban all gender-affirming care, and more.
This series is a weekly roundup of LGBTQ-related news, covering various laws and bans, as well as efforts to push back against them.
Last week, plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Kentucky over its ban on gender-affirming care for minors filed an emergency motion to block it. Virginia introduced new model policies for schools that prevent teachers from using trans students’ preferred names and pronouns without parental permission. In the U.S. Senate, Ohio Republican Sen. J.D. Vance introduced legislation that would ban gender-affirming care for minors across the country, and in the House, Republicans voted to cut funding for three LGBTQ+ community centers.
Plaintiffs file emergency motion to block Kentucky gender-affirming care ban.
The plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Kentucky over its ban on gender-affirming care for minors have filed an emergency motion to once again block the law after a lower court judge stayed his own injunction.
The ban caused immediate harm to trans youth throughout the state of Kentucky after going into effect July 14, when a district court judge overturned his own preliminary injunction on the ban, lawyers for the plaintiffs are arguing.
“I can tell you anecdotally that I spoke with someone online who was having trouble filling a testosterone prescription for their younger brother who was trans, before the law had gone into effect, because pharmacists didn’t understand that the law had not gone into effect, and that it was still okay to fill a testosterone prescriptions,” Angela Cooper, communications director for the ACLU of Kentucky, which is one of the groups representing the plaintiffs, told the American Independent Foundation. “And those folks went to the minor’s doctor and asked for a recommendation. And that doctor sent them to Cincinnati to get six to eight months’ supply of testosterone so that they would be able to get through this process.”
The district judge allowed the Kentucky law to stand after the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals let Tennessee’s ban on gender-affirming care remain in place, the fact Kentucky’s law went into effect immediately should merit another injunction, lawyers for the plaintiffs argue — Tennessee’s law allowed minors already receiving gender-affirming treatments to continue to do so through March 2024.
The Sixth Circuit combined the Tennessee and Kentucky laws for the purposes of appeal, and a final ruling on their constitutionality is expected by Sept. 30.
Virginia trans student model policies.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration has introduced a new set of model policies governing how public schools may treat transgender students.
The Virginia Department of Education moved the policies forward July 18.
Both in its announcement of the policies and in the text itself, the Department of Education states its intention is to foster respect and acceptance for transgender students.
“There is nothing more important than creating a safe and vibrant learning environment for all our students,” Virginia Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera said in the department’s announcement. “These policies clarify that parents are the appropriate decision makers regarding their child’s health and wellbeing, and that students are best served when parents, teachers, and school administrators work as a team to support a child’s education. They also affirm that discrimination and bullying of any kind will not be tolerated in Virginia’s public schools.”
However, the policies mandate that educators only use students’ birth names and pronouns unless otherwise instructed by parents in writing.
The policies even set restrictions on the use of nicknames, stating school staff may only use “a nickname commonly associated with the name that appears in the student’s official record.”
The policies also require students to use restrooms, locker rooms and other facilities divided by gender or sex based on their sex as assigned at birth, and require the same for school sports. In cases in which state or federal law requires transgender students to have access to a facility that aligns with their gender identity, they allow parents to opt their children out of those facilities.
The state’s current policies, enacted under Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, allow trans students to access facilities and take part in school programs that align with their gender identity, the Washington Post reported.
The text of the new policies state, “Each school board shall adopt policies that are consistent with but may be more comprehensive, than the model policies,” although some school districts, such as Arlington Public Schools, have already vowed to defy the state.
“I want our transgender, non-binary, and gender fluid students to hear loud and clear that you belong here, you are valued, and we stand with and support you,” Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Francisco Durán said in a statement about the policies. “Who you are enhances the lives and educational experiences of all APS students and staff. We have reviewed the model policies and determined that our current policies and policy implementation procedures that protect the rights of our transgender students will stay as is.”
House Republicans eliminate funding of LGBTQ centers.
Republicans in the House of Representatives voted July 18 to eliminate federal funding of three LGBTQ community centers and ban federal funds from being used to fly pride flags outside federal buildings.
The House Committee on Appropriations voted 34-27 along party lines on an amendment to the 2024 budget for the departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development and related agencies, which cut the funding for LGBTQ centers in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, according to reporting from The Hill.
The amendment was introduced by Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), who said the amendment would stop “problematic” spending, according to the Hill.
Democrats on the committee decried the amendment in an emotional hearing, with Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), who is openly gay, comparing the Republicans voting for the amendment to people who harassed him for his sexuality when he was younger.
“When I wasn’t out yet, (I) left the gay bars and people followed me and beat me with a baseball bat until I was bloodied and unconscious and called me a f—–,” Pocan said, according to the Hill. “This is what you guys do by introducing amendments like this.”
Sen. J.D. Vance introduces legislation that would ban gender-affirming care.
Ohio Republican Sen. J.D. Vance on July 18 introduced a bill that would ban gender-affirming care for minors everywhere in the United States.
Vance drew attention to the bill’s ban on gender-affirming surgeries, telling conservative news site the Daily Caller, “Under no circumstances should doctors be allowed to perform these gruesome, irreversible operations on underage children.”
Those surgeries rarely are offered to minors, and the bill bans puberty blockers and hormone therapies for anyone under age 18 as well. Puberty blockers are reversible, and hormone therapies are largely so. The bill also would subject anyone caught offering or helping a minor receive the banned treatments to fines and up to 12 years in prison.
The bill, called the Protect Children’s Innocence Act, mirrors one introduced four months ago in the House of Representatives by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).
Vance’s bill is unlikely to become law with Democrats in control of both the Senate and the White House.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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