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Alabama bill to force teachers to out trans youth & ban health care access fails

Transgender flag being waved in a crowd
Photo: Shutterstock

Alabama’s S.B. 10 failed to come up for a vote in the state house before the chamber’s session ended, ending the bill’s chances of becoming a law this year.

Also known as the “Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act,” the bill would have banned trans youth from accessing gender-affirming health care – including talk therapy – and require teachers to out children who may be trans to their parents.

Related: Out Gov. Kate Brown set to ban lawyers from using “panic” excuse for killing LGBTQ people

S.B. 10 passed the Alabama Senate in March. In addition to not allowing trans youth to receive access to certain healthcare prior to the age of 19, the bill called for providing “disclosure of certain information concerning students to parents by schools” if they learned that a child may identify as trans.

The bill didn’t come to a vote before the House in time. The Republican-majority body had the bill on their agenda for days.

Chase Strangio, deputy director for trans justice with the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project, stated that “this important victory is the result of trans people and their families mobilizing to defend this life-saving medical care in Alabama and around the country.”

“Children aren’t mature enough to make these decisions on surgeries and drugs,” the sponsor of S.B. 10, state Sen. Shay Shelnutt (R), justified his proposal when he introduced it. He did not know of any instances where surgery was being done on children.

It was also one of the few bills to go after psychotherapy for transgender youth. A state senator tried to amend the bill to exempt therapy, but Shelnutt refused to let that happen.

“We don’t want them affirming that, ‘Hey yeah, you’re right, you should be a boy if you are a born a female,’” he said.

The Alabama Political Reporter found that numerous medical organizations opposed the legislation and believed the bill would lead to suicide among transgender youth. Strangio noted that “Alabama [was] on track to becoming the most hostile state in the country for transgender youth” with this bill.

While this bill failed, Alabama passed bill that bans trans girls from sports just last month. Since then, the state capitol has been the site of several protests in defense of trans people and other LGBTQ rights. Forty protestors showed up to Montgomery to protest right before the S.B. 10 was voted on in the Senate.

Phineas Fleming Smith, a trans student in Alabama, told the Montgomery Advertiser, “Testosterone and hormone treatments and all of these gender-affirming surgeries, for some it means life or death.”

“We know that this is not the last attack we will see on the transgender community. We cannot become complacent,” Kaitlin Welborn of the ACLU of Alabama said in a statement, “but no matter what lawmakers in Alabama try, transgender people belong and we will always fight to make sure their rights are protected, the same as everyone else’s.”

Those protests raged on when and after the bill passed and continued outside the capitol for weeks. In that time, the state has even repealed an anti-LGBTQ rule that required schools to teach that homosexuality is wrong and unhealthy in sex education.

In April, a billboard sporting the trans flag beside Highway 280 in Birmingham implored state legislators to stop persecuting transgender youth and instead #ProtectAlabamaTransKids. Magic City Acceptance Center, which serves LGBTQ youth in Alabama, is behind the billboard and the reaction from trans kids themselves has made it worthwhile, even if no hardhearted Republicans change their mind.