What state lawmakers think of the anti-LGBTQ laws popping up in their legislatures
Elected officials from six culture-war battlegrounds shared their experiences fighting back against the groundswell of laws targeting marginalized youth.
From Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill to the bans on transgender youth participation in sports in 11 states and counting, the wave of legislation targeting LGBTQ students has been well-documented in both this newsletter and by national news organizations.
But without federal legislation on the books to counteract these bills and slim congressional margins to pass laws that would ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, state and local leaders have been left to their own devices to push back against these attacks.
I hopped on Zoom on Friday to hear six state lawmakers — Democratic state Sen. Shevrin Jones of Florida, Democratic state Sen.Karen Berg of Kentucky, Democratic state Rep. Stephanie Byers of Kansas, Democratic state Sen. Raumesh Akbari of Tennessee, Democratic state Rep. Jessica Gonzaleź of Texas and Democratic state Rep. Neil Rafferty of Alabama — speak out against the more than 300 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced this year during a virtual briefing hosted by the Human Rights Campaign.
“These bills are being brought in from national organizations, given to state legislatures, and they are being asked to pass these simply because they think these are polling well with no consideration to the harm this is doing to children,” Sen. Berg of Kentucky said during the briefing. “My Republican colleagues are actually using this as a political ploy to get votes, no matter who it hurts. (The Alliance Defending Freedom and the Heritage Foundation were the two main national anti-LGBTQ groups funneling these bills to the state and local levels, according to HRC.)
Berg is a parent of a trans child and said it takes a village to support kids through middle school and high school.
“And what they are doing is destroying that village,” Berg said of the members of the anti-LGBTQ movement.