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Alabama’s laws affecting LGBTQ+ people reviewed in annual index

Alabama passed multiple laws impacting LGBTQ individuals including the criminalization of gender-affirming care and preventing LGBTQ discussions in the classroom.

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The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, and the Equality Federation Institute released their 9th annual State Equality Index (SEI) Thursday. The SEI is a comprehensive state-by-state report that provides a review of statewide laws and policies that affect LGBTQ+ people and their families.

Alabama is one of 23 states which falls into the lowest-rated category on the index, title “high priority to achieve basic equality.”

In a coordinated push led by national anti-LGBTQ+ groups, politicians in statehouses across the country introduced 315 discriminatory anti-LGBTQ+ bills in 2022 and 29 passed into law. Fewer than 10 percent of these efforts succeeded and 24 pro-equality bills were also passed into law, ranging in topic from making it easier to update drivers licenses and birth and death certificates with correct names and gender markers; to banning insurance exclusions for healthcare for transgender individuals; to expanding non-discrimination protections in housing, employment and education.

“As the 2022 State Equality Index shows, last year saw a continuation of the recent dramatic explosion of legislation targeting transgender people, especially transgender youth, exploiting myths and misunderstandings about what it means to be transgender. Despite the increasing number of bills filed nationwide, advocates and activists on the ground were able to beat back the majority of this legislation,” said Fran Hutchins, Executive Director of the Equality Federation Institute. “We know the mere introduction and discussion of these bills further fuels anti-LGBTQ+ stigma nationwide, resulting in violence against our community. It’s more important than ever to focus our attention on protecting LGBTQ+ people in the states, where the work is hard, but the impact is great.”

Last year also marked the passage of the most anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-transgender legislation in recent history. During the final hours of their legislative session, Alabama lawmakers passed a sweeping package of bills that contained a number of anti-LGBTQ+ measures, including legislation criminalizing parents for providing gender-affirming care for their transgender children, barred transgender children from using bathrooms and locker rooms that aligned with their gender identity, and censored classroom discussions on LGBTQ+ issues.

“The 2022 State Equality Index outlines how states across the country fought back against  yet another record year of anti-LGBTQ+ legislative attacks. In the face of these attacks, legislators and advocates fought back, with fewer than 10 percent of the anti-LGBTQ+ discriminatory bills introduced passing into law,” said JoDee Winterhof, Human Rights Campaign Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs. “These bills are terrible public policy, and we are also deeply cognizant of how every harmful anti-LGBTQ+ bill that is signed into law has a devastating impact on the lives and well-being of LGBTQ+ people, particularly children. The legislative assault and hateful rhetoric towards our community has also led to more stigma, discrimination, and ultimately, suicide and deadly violence – particularly against the transgender community. As we continue our fight for LGBTQ+ equality, this report underscores that equality is the winning side of this issue.”

The majority of the bills – 149 bills – targeted the transgender and non-binary community, with the majority targeting children. Anti-transgender legislation took several forms, including 80 bills aimed to prevent transgender youth from playing school sports consistent with their gender identity and 42 bills to prevent transgender and non-binary youth from receiving gender-affirming healthcare. By the end of the 2022 legislative session, a record 17 bills attacking transgender and non-binary children passed into law. 19 states exclude transgender athletes in school sports and 5 states restrict access to gender-affirming healthcare.

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Although members of the transgender and non-binary community were the primary targets of the discriminatory legislation, anti-LGBTQ+ bills took other forms as well. One of the most notable trends was a resurgence of curriculum censorship and “Don’t Say LGBTQ+” bills that turn back the clock and restrict teachers from discussing LGBTQ+ issues and other marginalized communities in their classrooms. Across the country, 70 curriculum censorship bills were filed and seven passed into law.

HRC Foundation’s full State Equality Index report, including detailed scorecards for every state, and a preview of the 2023 state legislative session is available online at www.hrc.org/sei.

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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