Alabama’s state legislature adopted a law on Thursday that was first proposed as a “bathroom bill.” Alabama’s adoption of the law bars discussions of gender and sexual orientation in primary schools.
The move comes as a slew of other states adopt similar legislation aimed at prohibiting LGBTQ-related issues from being discussed in schools. Another law that could send physicians in prison for up to ten years for giving medical treatments to transgender adolescents received final approval from Alabama’s state legislature on Thursday.
The modified “bathroom bill” was adopted by the Alabama Senate by a vote of 26 to 5. The Alabama House of Representatives approved the amendment by a vote of 70 to 26 on Thursday evening. It will then be sent to Gov. Kay Ivey for her signature.
The bill, as initially introduced by Rep. Scott Stadthagen, R-Hartselle, would have compelled kids to use the toilet that corresponded to their birth certificate sex. However, before the vote on Thursday, Sen. Shay Shelnutt altered the bill to add a ban on talks of sexual orientation or gender identity from kindergarten through fifth grade that are “not age-appropriate or developmentally acceptable for pupils in accordance with state standards.”
“We just don’t think it’s appropriate to be talking about homosexuality and gender identity,” Shelnutt said. “You know, they should be talking about math, science (and) writing, especially in elementary school.
The text is identical to that of a Florida measure called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by detractors. Even though the topics are not taught in those grades in Florida, the measure prohibits the teaching of “sexual orientation or gender identity” from kindergarten through third grade. In Alabama, the Shelnutt amendment would extend this to the fifth grade.
The proposal, according to Alabama State Senate Democrats, addressed a non-existent issue and might prohibit everyday interactions. Senator Bobby Singleton, the minority leader in the Senate, asked Shelnutt how a teacher should respond if “little Johnny” inquired about his gender.
“Little Johnny, you’re a boy,” Shelnutt said.
“You just answered the question based on gender,” Singleton said. “According to your amendment, they won’t be able to answer the question that way.
The proposal was immediately clotured, or put to a halt, by Senate Republicans. Singleton pointed out that the move meant they couldn’t enforce the prohibition on pre-kindergarten pupils.
Sen. Rodger Smitherman warned that the changes might push instructors out of the classroom, citing a community that has been subjected to “hate treatment.”
“Now we’re adding more piling on, because there’s an audience that’s jubilant and giddy about doing this to this community,” he said.
According to Stadthagen, his first bill was a response to attacks that occurred in various schools since 2010. However, neither instance featured transgender people, and an attorney for the victim of the 2010 attack stated in February that linking his client’s tragedy to transgender problems was ridiculous.
Prior to the bill’s approval by the House, Stadthagen stated that he supported the revisions.
“I do agree that kids that are in kindergarten to fifth grade should not be introduced to sexual orientation or gender identity,” Stadthagen said during the debate. “And if they do, it should be from their parents.”
Rep. Laura Hall enquired as to how the bill’s two issues may be connected.
“We’re talking about restrooms … and then we come back with an amendment that talks about prohibiting classroom instruction,” she said.
The act, according to transgender students and their families, is unenforceable, will result in litigation, and targets an at-risk demographic of youngsters.
“If you choose to pass this bill, the state will endure ridicule, put a financial burden on taxpayers, and worse still, making our children feel unwelcome in their state,” said Vanessa Tate Finney, a mother of a transgender child who spoke against the bill at a hearing on Tuesday.
Last year, Alabama became one of many Republican-led states to enact a measure prohibiting transgender females from participating in girls’ sports, a bill that Rep. Stadthagen also backed.