- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
From left: Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey; photos courtesy of the governors' offices
Florida is getting all the attention with its heinous “don’t say gay” law taking effect, but several other states have major anti-LGBTQ+ laws that came into force Friday.
Prominent among them is Alabama, which has its own version of a “don’t say gay” law. The “don’t say gay” provision was attached as an amendment to an anti-transgender “bathroom bill,” which Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law in April. The legislation requires that students in public schools use the restrooms and changing rooms designated for the gender on their birth certificate.
It also says, per the last-minute amendment, “An individual or group of individuals providing classroom instruction to students in kindergarten through the fifth grade at a public K-12 school shall not engage in classroom discussion or provide classroom instruction regarding sexual orientation or gender identity in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”
Ivey, a Republican, issued this statement defending the legislation: “Here in Alabama, men use the men’s room, and ladies use the ladies’ room — it’s really a no brainer. This bill will also ensure our elementary school classrooms remain free from any kind of sex talk. Let me be clear to the media and opponents who like to incorrectly dub this the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ amendment: That is misleading, false and just plain wrong. We don’t need to be teaching young children about sex. We are talking about five-year-olds for crying out loud. We need to focus on what matters — core instruction like reading and math.”
Ivey signed the bill the same day she signed one criminalizing the provision of gender-affirming health care to trans youth. That legislation is partially blocked by a court while a lawsuit against it proceeds.
In Tennessee, two laws that went into effect Friday expand on the trans athlete ban it enacted last year. One bars trans women from competing on college athletic teams that match their gender identity; the 2021 law dealt with middle school and high school sports. Another one provides for withholding of state funds from school districts that don’t comply with the ban affecting middle and high schools.
A third Tennessee law taking effect expands a statute requiring that internet providers block “obscenity and pornography” from school computers; it removes an exception for materials that could be considered educational. “LGBTQ+ advocates worry the law will be used to restrict access to resources about LGBTQ+ issues and identities, which Tennessee lawmakers have made clear they believe are inappropriate for children,” The Hill notes.
South Dakota’s trans-exclusionary sports law went into effect, barring trans girls and women from playing on female teams in K-12 schools and public colleges and universities. It was the first one signed this year. Another South Dakota law coming into force bans the teaching of “divisive concepts” in public colleges and universities; it specifically mentions content regarding race, sex, and ethnicity, but it is likely to have a chilling effect on instruction about LGBTQ+ issues as well.
And the trans athlete bans in Indiana and Utah have taken effect. Utah lawmakers overrode Gov. Spencer Cox’s veto of the ban, and Indiana legislators overrode Gov. Eric Holcomb's veto. Cox and Holcomb have been among the few Republicans to oppose such measures.