From left: Tennessee government Bill Lee and Alabama government Kay Ivey; photos courtesy of the governor’s offices
Florida gets all the attention with its horrible “don’t say gay” law coming into effect, but several other states have significant anti-LGBTQ+ laws that went into effect Friday.
Prominent among them is Alabama, which has its own version of a “don’t say gay” law. The “don’t say gay” provision has been added as an amendment against an anti-transgender “bathroom bill,” which Governor Kay Ivey signed in April. The law requires students in public schools to use the restrooms and locker rooms designated for the gender on their birth certificates.
It also says, according to the last-minute amendment, “Any person or group of individuals who provides classroom instruction to kindergarten through fifth grade students at a K-12 public school may not engage in classroom discussion or classroom instruction regarding to sexual orientation or gender identity in a way that is inappropriate for the age or development of students in accordance with state standards.”
Ivey, a Republican, issued this statement defending the legislation: “Here in Alabama, men use the men’s room and women use the women’s room – it’s a real no-brainer. This bill will also ensure that our elementary school classrooms remain free of any kind of sex talk. Let me be clear to the media and opponents who like to mistakenly call this the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ amendment: that is misleading, incorrect and simply wrong. We don’t need to teach young children about sex. We’re talking about five-year-olds crying out loud. We need to focus on what’s important: core instruction like reading and math.”
Ivey signed the bill de the same day she signed one that criminalizes the provision of gender-affirming health care for trans youth. That legislation is partially blocked by a court while a lawsuit is pending.
In Tennessee, two laws that went into effect Friday extend the ban on trans athletes enacted last year. A bars trans women of participating in college athletic teams that match their gender identity; the 2021 law covered high school and high school sports. Another takes care of withholding of state funds from school districts that do not follow the middle and high school ban.
A third Tennessee law to go into effect expands a statute requiring Internet service providers to block “obscenity and pornography” from school computers; it removes an exception for materials that could be considered educational. “LGBTQ+ advocates fear the law will be used to restrict access to resources on LGBTQ+ issues and identities, which Tennessee lawmakers have made clear they believe are inappropriate for children,” The hill notes.
South Dakotas trans-exclusive sports law went into effect, barring trans girls and women from playing on female teams at K-12 schools and public colleges and universities. It was the first to be signed this year. A new law in South Dakota coming into effect forbids teaching “divine concepts” in public colleges and universities; it specifically mentions content related to race, gender, and ethnicity, but it will likely have a chilling effect on instruction on LGBTQ+ issues as well.
And the ban on trans athletes in Indiana and Utah has come into effect. lawmakers in Utah ignored Governor Spencer Cox’s veto of Prohibition, and Indiana’s Legislatures ignored Governor Eric Holcomb’s veto. Cox and Holcomb were among the few Republicans to oppose such measures.