Opinion: Bills that target trans and queer youth don’t just roll back equality, they hurt democracy

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In the first four months of 2022 alone, a record number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the United States. Of the 670 bills tabled since 2018, 238 were offered from January to March 2022.

The bills goal limit all aspects of trans and queer identity and existence, especially when it comes to trans and queer youth and students. The bills target trans athletes ability to compete in gendered sports, what teachers are able to discuss regarding sexuality and gender identity in the classroom, and the legality of gender-affirming surgery and health care.

Simply put, these bills violate the fundamental human rights of trans and queer people and pose a constant and dangerous threat to trans and queer communities across the country. Across the country, in the two states where such damaging bills have been passed and in those that have not, trans and queer youth live in states of fear, anger, determination and all the intermediate emotions.

“I feel like the bills are getting closer and closer to California. I’m just worried about when our presence in California won’t be enough to protect our rights,” said LN, a GSA club member from California.

In other states where such anti-queer bills are not just threats but a reality, trans and queer youth are feeling heightened versions of what LN shared. Illinois youth and Gender Justice Leadership Program member Ash Kranti shared that living in a state where to charge HB4082a bill that seeks to severely limit the rights of trans-student athletes, is currently being worked on, is highly detrimental to almost every aspect of being xyr.

“It’s emotionally draining… You don’t want to get up. You don’t want to do anything. You can’t show up at school. You cannot show up for work. You can’t show up just anywhere,” Kranti said. “It’s exhausting. So when people pass bills like this, it hurts.

Perhaps no words can accurately describe what it feels like to be looked down upon in “the land of the free” for parts of yourself that you simply cannot change. But, what LN and Kranti and hundreds of other trans and queer youth who have spoken out about these bills have highlighted is how harmful these bills are no matter where they are. live.

Already, trans and queer youth are facing a mental health crisis. Trans and queer teens are six times more likely suffer from depression or depression-like symptoms than their cisgender and heterosexual counterparts, twice more likely to contemplate suicide and more than four times as likely to attempt suicide before age 21 as non-gay youth of the same age.

This mental health crisis stems from many issues: discrimination, exclusive trans and queer upbringing, abuse, and lack of adequate resources, to name a few. All of these factors are compounded when anti-queer and anti-trans bills are drafted and passed.

Trans and queer youth, however, refuse to take these assaults on life lying down.

Since organize school walkouts in Florida, after the Don’t Say Gay Bill was passed by young leaders working with their GSAs to tell their classmates about the horrific bills that passed, young people across the United States are working to make hear their voice.

Never mind what is happening in legislatures across the country, one thing remains clear: trans and queer youth will continue to live and fight for their rights no matter how politicians continue to weaponize and threaten trans existence. and queer.

To stay informed about national strategies to fight these bills, check out the GSA Network design freedom strategy page regularly. Allies, especially needed at times like these, can continue to support trans and queer youth in their lives at this time by providing a supportive and safe space, donating time or money to local organizationsand continue to educate themselves and others.

Lobbying against these bills is also an effective way to show support for trans and queer communities. Regardless of how allies present themselves for trans and queer youth, we must all remain committed to making the country – and the world – a safer place for all young people, who deserve the same opportunities and the same fundamental rights to freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as their cisgender and heterosexual counterparts do.

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