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“An Exercise in Politics, Not Good Medicine”

This year, in a coordinated attack on the LGBTQ community, legislators in states across the country have passed scores of laws that threaten and endanger LGBTQ people, their families, and their communities. NCLR has been at the forefront of the fight against anti-LGBTQ laws for decades, but we have never seen such an aggressive campaign against LGBTQ youth and their families. 

NCLR will keep fighting these unconstitutional laws, just as we have always done. Already, we have persuaded courts in Alabama, Florida, and Utah to block enforcement of laws that target transgender kids – and we’re far from done.

The numbers are stark. As of June 2023, 21 states have passed bans prohibiting transgender children from playing sports in school. 10 states have passed “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” laws, which censor discussions of LGBTQ people or issues in schools. Nine states have banned transgender students from using bathrooms or other facilities consistent with their gender identity at school, and four states require school staff to “out” transgender students to their families. 

On top of that, 19 states have banned medical care for transgender adolescents – treatments that are not only medically necessary but often life-saving. Without access to medical treatment, these youths face an increased risk of serious depression and self-harm, including suicide. As one study recently found, adolescents who have access to this care “had better mental health outcomes, including lower odds of past-year suicidal ideation, past-month severe psychological distress, past-month binge drinking, and lifetime illicit drug use.”

The medical bans are contrary to decades of scientific evidence and the recommendations of the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and every other leading national health authority. 

Under the most punitive of these bans, both doctors and parents of transgender adolescents are at risk of criminal prosecution. Florida’s SB 254, for example, would give Florida the power to strip parental rights from parents who support their transgender children. Any doctor who provides medically necessary treatments for gender dysphoria would also be stripped of their medical license and charged with a felony. 

Alabama’s law is just as punitive – making it a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison for a parent or medical provider to support this medically necessary care.

These laws represent the most extreme examples of government overreach. States have no business telling doctors how to do their jobs or parents how to care for their own children. Decades of research show that when LGBTQ children receive the love and support they need – whether it be medical care, anti-bullying and harassment policies, or family support – they thrive. 

That’s why NCLR is bringing constitutional challenges to these laws in states throughout the country, including Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Utah, Arizona, and more to come. In Florida, a federal judge recently granted our motion to block the enforcement of Florida’s medical ban, stating the “statute and the rules were an exercise in politics, not good medicine.” As a result of that decision, transgender youth in Florida can continue to receive the care they need, as every child in this country should be able to do.  

We will not stop until these hateful laws are relegated to the dustbin of history and every person in our community is supported and secure. 

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