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Texas and Florida Lead the Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislative Crusade

Updated: Mar 20, 2022

By Barbara Kay

Protests against anti-trans legislation in Texas (Image via The New Yorker)

Legislative attacks on the LGBTQ+ community have been executed nationwide with Texas’ attempt to ban gender-affirming care, and Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill at the forefront.

“No state could ever pass a law that says eliminate all trans people and Black people because that would be too easy to spot,” said visiting instructor of gender studies, CJ Jones. “So, what we see here are more insidious pieces of legislation that get more specific. And while this doesn’t eliminate trans life outright, it creates conditions where trans peoples' lives can’t grow sustainably."

On Feb. 22, the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott sent a letter to the Texas Department of Family and Child Protective Services saying that doctors, and families who aid transgender youth in getting gender-affirming care, such as hormone treatments, should be investigated and prosecuted for “child abuse.”

Two weeks later, Florida passed a bill, dubbed the "Don't Say Gay" bill, that would forbid educators from discussing material pertaining to the LGBTQ+ community in kindergarten through third grade. Both states are capitalizing off the symbol of the cisgender, middle-class, white child– a “seemingly neutral figure,” Jones said.

“This new bill [will] go after the parents of teenagers who are getting trans care, which is like gender-affirming treatment; treatment is a weird term because there is nothing wrong with them,” said assistant professor of political science, Samuel Galloway. “It is exceedingly difficult for these teenagers to get gender-affirming care in the first place. The notion is that these kids are being fast-tracked to estrogen and testosterone but it is often a process that is met with resistance.

“First, there are parents who are willing to get you that care, and doctors who are willing to provide and willing to accept that this is an appropriate measure,” he continued. “This is further embedded in the social world of school, and community networks where it's not just about getting that care but also [getting it] affirmed. This can be anything from having your pronouns respected to accessing the bathroom that corresponds with your gender.”

Gender-affirming care is only one of the heavily politized subjects sweeping the nation that the Republican party has taken offense to in anticipation of the midterm election. Other topics include trans women in sports, abortion, and critical race theory (CRT) in states such as Alabama, Idaho, Tennessee, and Arizona.

Many say that Florida’s legislature is also on a crusade to “marginalize” the LGBTQ+ community in elementary schools with their "Don't Say Gay" bill.

“The bill states: ‘Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade three or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards,’” reported The Guardian.

Protestors on the steps of the Florida Historic Capitol Museum on March 7 (Image via Time)

The bill is expected to be signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis. This has led students across the nation to take to the streets to protest the ban, chanting, “We say gay.” In light of this, some, like sociology professor Toivo Asheeke, argue that the movement needs bring intersectionality into the conversation.

“I see these students marching to the state capital and It is very magnificent, but they do seem very white and do seem very middle class,” noted Asheeke. “What I wonder is, are they going to be able to link their struggles concretely with BIPOC? You can’t talk about Florida’s history without talking about the Seminoles,” he continued.

The Seminoles, who refer to themselves as the “Unconquered People,” are an Indigenous tribe in Florida who are descendants of only 300 members “who managed to elude capture by the U.S. army in the 19th century,” states the Florida Department of State’s website.

Indigenous cultures are notorious for their acceptance of third genders. The denial of gender fluidity is “an unfortunate [legacy] of colonialism,” said Jones.

Asheeke also expressed concern for schools with primarily Black students and students with limited resources.

“I’m curious to see in these primarily Black schools, and underfunded schools, what are those conversations going to look like? What about homeless youth?” he said.

40 percent of Florida’s homeless youth population identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community, and 31 percent are Black.

For Purchase, an openly queer community with 49 percent of the students being POC and the other 49.6 percent being white, Asheeke said that conversations around equity and inclusion should be a priority not only for faculty and administration but among the student body as well.

“I'm not a part of the social life, but a lot of it has to come from there,” Asheeke said. “As independent as the younger generations are, you can’t demand more from your institutions and not hold yourselves accountable. A part of how you dismantle societies is how you build community relationships, as well as the demands from the university. You have to challenge your own normativity.”



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