The Alabama Senate passed an anti-transgender bathroom bill and, at the last minute, attached a Don’t Say Gay bill to it.
The Alabama House already passed a law banning transgender students from using the bathroom at school that corresponds to their gender, a law that could put them at risk of bullying, harassment, and violence by being forced to use the restroom of the opposite gender.
The bill was sent to the Alabama Senate, which debated and voted on it today. At the last minute, Alabama Sen. Shay Shelnutt (R) added an amendment banning discussions about gender identity and sexual orientation from kindergarten to fifth grade. This covers two grade levels higher than the law passed in Florida.
State Sen. Bobby Singleton (D) spoke out against the amendment, and he asked Shelnutt if the Don’t Say Gay amendment would ban “little Johnny” from asking a teacher if they’re a boy or a girl, AL.com reports.
“Little Johnny, you’re a boy,” Shelnutt responded.
“You just answered a question based on gender,” Singleton snapped back.
The Alabama Senate cut off debate on the amendment after Singleton’s objections and voted 26-5 to pass it. The state’s house has to approve it because it passed a bathroom bill without the Don’t Say Gay amendment.
The original bill requires students to use the restroom associated with the sex marked on their birth certificates. Currently, the state does not have a policy about what restrooms trans students should use.
HRC spoke out against the bill yesterday in anticipation of the vote today.
“If passed in the Senate and signed into law, the bill would further discriminate against and restrict students who already feel unsafe in school, suffer academically, and have a higher likelihood of dropping out of school,” the Human Rights Campaign said in a statement.
The Alabama House is also expected to vote this week on a bill that would put doctors in jail for up to 10 years if they provide gender affirming care for transgender youth. Shelnutt is the sponsor of that bill, and he said the last time he introduced his bill that it includes mental health professionals providing therapy to trans youth.
Several civil rights organizations and firms – Lambda Legal, The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Alabama, Transgender Law Center, and Cooley LLP – have already promised to sue the state if it passes the ban on medical care.
“Shame on the cruel, heartless, and power-hungry state legislators that want to take away life-saving medical care from transgender youth in Alabama,” said Carl Charles, senior attorney for Lambda Legal. “We are ready to use the full force of the law to come down on this clearly unconstitutional legislation should it come to pass.”
Arkansas passed a similar medical ban last year. A federal judge has already issued a temporary injunction against that state’s legislation as a lawsuit arguing that the law is unconstitutional works its way through the courts.