In a bid to prove his conservative credentials and win re-election against his far-right opponents, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed three anti-LGBTQ bills today.
The bills and their effects are as follows: H.B. 1084 (the “Protect Students First Act”) bans so-called critical race theory from schools and establishes a committee that could ban trans athletes from school sports; H.B. 1178 (the “Parents’ Bill of Rights”) allows parents to challenge any material taught in schools, including LGBTQ content; and S.B. 226 bans “offensive” books from school libraries, including ones with queer content.
The bills mirror similar legislation introduced by Republicans around the country. Collectively, these bills have built an election season narrative that Democrats and leftist activists are indoctrinating public school children against parents’ wishes.
Kemp confirmed this narrative when signing the bills into law on Thursday, stating, “We put students and parents first by putting woke politics out the classroom and off the ball field.”
“Gov. Kemp surely knows that there is no basis for this legislation,” the Human Rights Campaign’s Georgia State Director Dewayne Johnson said. “The bill’s attacks on gender and race are fundamentally arbitrary and not a legitimate legal basis for discrimination.”
Johnson said the bills create “false dilemmas that fail to connect with the real issues faced by everyday Georgians” and single out transgender kids for discrimination.
“[These laws] prevent them from playing with their friends and enjoying the benefits of athletic activity – serves no one except those who want to fearmonger and further divide Georgian,” Johnson added.” This law will make it much harder to be a transgender young person in Georgia, and Gov. Kemp is directly responsible. He should be ashamed.”
Meanwhile, the bills have damaged the mental health of Georgia’s queer residents. A recent Health Advisor survey found that 65.1 percent of LGBTQ people in Georgia experienced depression in the last two weeks. That percentage is three times higher than the rate of depression experienced by heterosexual Georgians during the same time period.
Kemp is facing four other Republican gubernatorial candidates in the state’s May 24 primary. Former Republican President Donald Trump has railed against Kemp for not helping him overturn the state’s results in the 2020 presidential election. In an early April rally, Trump referred to Kemp as a “turncoat,” “coward,” and “a complete and total disaster.”
Trump has endorsed former Sen. David Perdue (R) for governor. While numerous polls show Kemp winning against Purdue, these anti-LGBTQ bills will help Kemp woo Republicans who might doubt his conservative credentials.