There have been massive protests against anti-LGBTQ+ legislation over the past few days in Arizona and Texas.
Students at eight schools in Arizona walked out Friday and rallied to show their opposition to pending bills that would “criminalize drag performances, outlaw books that include any mention of pronouns, ban transgender students from accessing bathrooms consistent with their gender identity and force teachers to out students who request pronouns opposite of their biological sex,” the Arizona Mirror reports.
The bills are all likely to be vetoed by Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs, but the fact that they’re being proposed harms LGBTQ+ youth, organizers of the protests said. “As students, [anti-LGBTQ bills] compromise our safety and our mental health, both of which are burgeoning crises across the nation amongst teens,” Dawn Shim, founder of Support Equality Arizona Schools, told the Mirror.
Rhig Yates, a 14-year-old transgender student, said the homophobic and transphobic remarks of Republican lawmakers are hurtful to young people. “It’s awful that people continue making these comments and rules that continue to oppress us,” Yates said at one of the rallies, according to the Mirror. “They are literally killing people with what they say.”
Support Equality Arizona Schools has demanded several pro-equality actions in the state, “including better systems for trans students to submit their preferred names and pronouns, more inclusive bathroom policies and equitability training for teachers,” the Mirror notes.
In Texas, hundreds of protesters gathered Saturday and marched to the state capitol in Austin. The Texas Senate has approved bills that would ban gender-affirming care for trans youth, restrict discussion of LGBTQ+ topics in schools, bar trans college athletes from competing under their gender identity, and withhold funds from public libraries that host drag queen story hours.
These bills are pending in the House, “which has historically served as an obstacle to legislation that would curb the rights of LGBTQ Texans,” The Texas Tribune reports. But House members appear inclined to push these measures through. There are six weeks left in the legislative session.
“Welcome to the resistance,” Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas, told the crowd, according to the Tribune.
One of the attendees, 20-year-old trans man Alexander Peden, said it was lifesaving when he started taking testosterone at age 15, something that would be banned by the health care bill. He called the treatment “absolutely fundamental in saving my life,” as reported by the Tribune. If it hadn’t been available in Texas, he and his family would have left the state, he said. If the pending anti-LGBTQ+ bills pass, the state will be a hostile place, he added.
“It got so bad so fast. And it looks like it’s going to get worse,” Peden said.