On the last day of the state’s legislative session, Alabama’s Republican-controlled legislature passed two bills aimed at transgender children, including one that makes it illegal for a doctor to provide gender-affirming health care to minors.
Another bill, requiring K-12 students to use bathrooms designated for their biological sex, included a last-minute amendment Thursday that critics have compared to the “Don’t Say Gay” law in Florida. In elementary schools, it would outlaw discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom.
SB 184, which would make it a class C felony for medical professionals to provide gender-affirming care to people under the age of 18 — such as hormone therapy, puberty blockers, and gender-reassignment surgery — was also approved by the state’s House of Representatives. Medical professionals who provide such care could face up to ten years in prison if Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signs the bill into law.
The bill states, “The decision to pursue a course of hormonal and surgical interventions to address a discordance between an individual’s sex and sense of identity should not be presented to or determined for minors who are incapable of comprehending the negative implications and life-course difficulties attendant to these interventions should not be presented to or determined for minors who are incapable of comprehending the negative implications and life-course difficulties attending to these interventions should not be presented to or determined for minors who are incapable of comprehending the negative implications and life
It would also be illegal for public or private school officials, such as teachers, principals, nurses, and counselors, to encourage a minor to hide “the fact that the minor’s perception of his or her gender or sex is inconsistent with the minor’s sex” from their parent or guardian. According to the state legislature’s website, the bill, dubbed the Alabama Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act, passed the Republican-controlled House by a vote of 66-28. The bill was passed by the GOP-led Senate with a vote of 24-6 in February, and it will become law 30 days after the governor signs it.
Alabama would be the most recent state to pass such legislation. Last year, Arkansas Republican lawmakers overrode their governor’s veto to enact their own health-care ban, and Tennessee and Arizona have followed suit.
Last year, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against Arkansas for its ban, and in July, a federal judge temporarily blocked the state from enforcing it. The American Civil Liberties Union, the Alabama Civil Liberties Union, and other legal advocacy groups have announced plans to challenge the bill in court.
In addition, HB 322 includes a late amendment that prohibits elementary school teachers from discussing or teaching about sexual orientation or gender identity in the classroom.
“To require public K-12 schools to designate the use of rooms where students may be in various stages of undress on the basis of biological sex,” according to an earlier version of the bill.
Republican state Sen. Shay Shelnutt introduced an amendment just before the final vote on Thursday afternoon that would “prohibit classroom instruction or discussion on sexual orientation or gender identity for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.”
Schools should not “engage in classroom discussion or provide classroom instruction regarding sexual orientation or gender identity in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards,” according to Shelnutt’s amendment.
The bill passed the state Senate with a vote of 26-5, including Shelnutt’s amendment. The amendment was adopted Thursday night by a vote of 70-26 after the bill was sent back to the House for a concurrence vote.
According to Julie Saint, the Alabama House of Representatives’ supervisor for enrolling and engrossing, the bill now goes to Ivey for final approval. “It also invokes legislation similar to Florida’s controversial ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill by banning classroom instruction or discussion of gender identity in public elementary schools,” the ACLU of Alabama said of the bill’s passage. According to the ACLU, the bill violates the US Constitution and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act.
“Transgender students will bear the cost of discrimination,” the Human Rights Campaign said Thursday night, “discrimination that already causes transgender youth to feel unsafe in school, suffer academically, and have a higher likelihood of dropping out.”