Gus Kenworthy
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Anti-LGBTQ+ Bills Sent to Governors in Four States

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum

As of Thursday evening, anti-LGBTQ+ bills were close to becoming law in four states — two barring transgender young people from competing in school sports under their gender identity and two limiting LGBTQ+ content in education.

These bills received final approval this week by legislators in North Dakota, Alabama, Arizona, and Tennessee, and are headed to those states’ governors for signature or veto. Given that all four states have Republican governors, vetoes are unlikely, although LGBTQ+ activists are holding out hope.

The North Dakota Senate approved the trans-exclusionary sports bill Thursday, after the state’s House of Representatives had OK’d it the day before, the Grand Forks Herald reports. Gov. Doug Burgum has not taken a public position on the matter, although a year ago he denounced anti-LGBTQ+ language endorsed by other Republicans in the state party platform.

“As I’ve long said, all North Dakotans deserve to be treated equally and live free of discrimination,” he said at the time. “We can respect one another’s freedoms without disrespecting or discriminating against the LGBT members of our state and our party, whom we support.”

North Dakota lawmakers have also passed and sent to Burgum a bill that would allow student groups at public schools and state colleges and universities to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people and others, even if they receive financial and other support from the institution.

The Alabama Senate approved a trans-exclusionary sports bill Thursday, making minor changes to the version already passed by the House, and the House quickly accepted them, the Associated Press reports. Gov. Kay Ivey has not made her stance on the bill known.

In Tennessee, where a trans-exclusionary sports bill has already been signed into law by Gov. Bill Lee, legislators gave final approval Wednesday to a bill that “would require school districts to notify parents of any instructions related to sexual orientation and gender identity” and let parents opt their children out of it without repercussions, The Tennessean reports. Legislators are also considering a bill that would ban LGBTQ+ content in public school curricula altogether.

Arizona lawmakers Wednesday OK’d a bill requiring signed, written consent from parents for their children to attend classes discussing sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV and AIDS, sending it on to Gov. Doug Ducey, according to Phoenix TV station KTAR.

Nearly 200 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures this year, about half of them specifically targeting transgender youth — either restricting their participation in sports or barring them from receiving gender-affirming health care before age 18. In addition to Tennessee, the sports bills have been signed into law in Arkansas and Mississippi. West Virginia has sent one to Gov. Jim Justice, who said this week he’d sign it. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem declined to sign such a bill, apparently fearing repercussions, but issued executive orders to the same effect.

 Arkansas legislators overrode Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto of a bill denying gender-affirming care to minors, so it will become law. Hutchinson did sign a bill allowing health care workers in general to opt out of procedures that offend their religious or moral beliefs, setting up situations where LGBTQ+ people and others could face discrimination.

The spate of discriminatory legislation has been condemned by civil rights groups including the Human Rights Campaign, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Trevor Project, and GLAAD, which have called on governors to veto any measures that reach them. “Lawmakers must stop targeting the most vulnerable in their states,” GLAAD Communications Coordinator Serena Sonoma said in a press release. “They are sending a terrible message that hurts all kids and threatens their states’ economies.”

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