May 23, 2022
We get it, politics can be dull. (And frustrating!) But at its best, it can be a force for good, not only by promoting inclusivity, acceptance, and respect for all, but by enshrining those values in the law of the land. What we’re seeing in Florida and Texas right now is politics at its worst. The anti-LGBTQ+ efforts underway there and in many other states endanger the lives of gay and transgender youth and deny the very existence of LGBTQ+ people. This is nothing more than a dangerous and cynical grab for political power.
The politicians behind this want to divide us. We can’t let that happen. Let’s meet hate with love. Let’s celebrate the worth and value of all children. And let’s make sure that these regressive and hateful policies do not stand.
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What’s Happening in Florida
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed the “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” bill into law.
- The bill bars teachers from creating a safe and welcoming classroom environment for all students.
- It prevents teachers from talking about LGBTQ+ issues, history, or people.
- Parents are allowed to directly sue a school district if they believe that a teacher has violated the law.
- Florida students have led walkouts in opposition to the legislation, and more than 150 companies (including us) have come out against it.
- This law limits protected speech in workplaces with more than 15 employees and in classrooms by essentially making it impossible to have an honest dialogue about race, racism, and gender.
- It revises Florida’s employment discrimination statutes to allow employees to file discrimination claims against an employer that offers trainings in or leads discussions about things like Black history, systemic racism, or LGBTQ+ issues.
Many companies (including Ben & Jerry’s) doing business in Florida have made their opposition to this bill very clear.
What’s Happening in Texas
In late February, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton declared that gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth should be classified as child abuse.
Governor Greg Abbott then directed the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate families that are lovingly supporting and seeking care for their trans children—turning a state agency that’s supposed to protect children into a body actively promoting their harm.
- The attorney general's opinion and the governor’s order do not change Texas law, but they have “terrified” parents and trans youth all across the state.
- A number of county and district attorneys have said that they will not enforce the opinion.
- The medical treatments provided to trans children are supported throughout the world by doctors, healthcare experts, and medical associations.
- These gender-affirming treatments save lives.
- A Texas court temporarily halted all investigations back in early March, thanks to a lawsuit brought by the ACLU. Unfortunately, the Texas Supreme Court recently ruled that the investigations should be allowed to continue.
- Some fearful healthcare providers have stopped prescribing gender-affirming hormone therapies for trans youth.
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Part of a Disturbing Trend
The anti-LGBTQ+ actions in Florida and Texas are part of a deeply disturbing nationwide trend.
- Last year, according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a record 26 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were signed into law across 10 states.
- As of March 2022, 15 states, including Texas, have restricted access to gender-affirming care or are considering legislation that would. The governor of Alabama, for example, signed a bill into law in April that makes it a felony for doctors to provide gender-affirming care for anyone under 19.
- This year, about 240 (and counting) anti-LGBTQ+ bills are already moving through state legislatures around the country.
What We Can Do
What’s happening in Florida, Texas, and other states is shameful and dangerous. This is what divisiveness looks like—pitting doctors against families, spreading fear, censoring meaningful and inclusive conversations, and putting children at grave risk. The rightwing politicians behind these efforts are weaponizing injustice and discrimination to fire up their base and win elections.
What can we do about it? We can work together to make sure nobody erases the existence, or endangers the lives, of our LGBTQ+ neighbors, friends, and loved ones. Everybody deserves to be seen, respected, and loved for who they are—especially our children.
Learn more and take action today. Together let’s make sure that love and justice win.
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