An Alabama law prohibiting transgender K-12 students from using the bathroom which aligns with their gender identity, while also prohibiting discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation, is now law, further limitings the rights of LGBTQ children in the state.
The law requires students in Alabama K-12 schools to use the bathroom of their “biological sex,” with the rules of enforcement and implementation left to the schools without specific details in the bill on what a transgender student could face if they use a bathroom that aligns with their gender identity.
The law also restricts discussions on gender identity and sexual orientation in Alabama kindergarten through fifth-grade classes. The bill describes such discussions as “not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”
The law’s passage during the previous state legislative session in April was fraught with controversy due to the broadening of the bill’s intent late into deliberations on the last day of the legislative session. Alabama state Sen. Shay Shelnutt, R-Trussville, introduced the amendment restricting classroom discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation, tacking it onto what had previously only been a bill on public school bathrooms.
The move drew condemnation from the Alabama Democratic and a litany of different LGBTQ and civil rights organizations, each near-universally condemning the broadened bill as anti-transgender and detrimental to teachers’ ability to conduct in-class discussions on societally relevant topics.
“In the final hours of the legislative session, Alabama’s Anti-LGBTQ+ elected officials decided to use those precious minutes, not to pass legislation that improves our state, but use that time to rush legislative attacks on our most vulnerable,” said Human Rights Campaign Alabama State Director Carmarion D. Anderson-Harvey in a statement after the bill’s passage in April. “These are not attempts to legislate against any sort of problem, these are attempts to exploit divisive political issues for political gain amongst their radical base at the expense of kids who are simply trying to navigate their adolescence.”
As the law goes into effect, Tennessee and Alabama are now the only two states in the U.S that restrict access to bathrooms for K-12 transgender students in public schools to bathrooms that correspond to their birth sex.