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How DeSantis and other GOP lawmakers are killing LGBTQ young people
And why they’re doing it
Last Wednesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis — who is expected to announce his campaign for the presidency today (on Twitter, with Elon Musk) — signed a gaggle of bills targeting LGBTQ youth.
In addition to those he had already signed into law — including a “Don’t Say Gay” measure barring teachers from mentioning sexual orientation or gender identity and another prohibiting gender-affirming care — his latest laws expand the state’s prohibition on classroom instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity, require that students use bathrooms associated with their sex assigned at birth, prohibit adults from taking children to see drag shows, and bar teachers from asking students about their preferred pronouns.
Another of the bills DeSantis just signed into law allows the state of Florida to take transgender minors away from parents who help them obtain gender-affirming care.
In raging against gender-affirming care, DeSantis lied that “they’re literally chopping off the private parts of young kids.” In fact, genital surgery is rarely, if ever, done under the age of 18. It’s not even all that common for adults. DeSantis is lying about it to scare people.
Meanwhile, the Republican presidential frontrunner has made it clear that trans people have no place in his vision of America:
“I will sign a new executive order instructing every federal agency to cease all programs that promote the concepts of sex and gender transitions at any age. I will ask Congress to pass a bill establishing that the only genders recognized by the United States government are male and female, and they are assigned at birth.”
My friends, these scare tactics are dangerous. Recent analysis found a 70% increase in hate crimes against LGBTQ Americans between 2020 and 2021, as the surge of these anti-LGBTQ bills began. And that’s only counting hate crimes that get reported. The years 2020 and 2021 each set a new record for the number of trans people murdered in America.
The cruelest irony is that these Republican bills pretending to protect children are putting our most vulnerable children at greater risk.
LGBTQ kids are more than four times likelier than non-LGBTQ kids to attempt suicide, especially transgender young people.
Gender-affirming care reduces that risk. That is why it is life-saving.
“Don’t Say Gay” laws also strip away potentially life-saving support. A teacher who positively and respectfully discusses sexual orientation and gender identity won’t turn a straight kid gay. But such a discussion will make an LGBTQ student 23% less likely to attempt suicide.
The tragic truth is that “Don’t Say Gay” laws and bans on gender-affirming care are causing more young lives to be needlessly lost.
Laws that threaten to take transgender minors away from their families if they are receiving gender-affirming care will cause these young people even more trauma.
If Republicans really cared about protecting kids, they’d focus on gun violence, now the leading cause of death for American children.
If they were really worried about children undergoing life-altering medical procedures, they wouldn’t pass abortion bans that force teens to give birth or risk back-alley procedures.
What the GOP’s vendetta against the LGBTQ community really is, is a classic authoritarian tactic to vilify already marginalized people.
This is how fascism takes root.
We need to see DeSantis’s bills and similar bills signed by Republican governors across the land for what they are — attempts to use bigotry and hate to elevate their political standing.
And we need to see this Republican attack on LGBTQ Americans for what it is: a threat to all of our human rights.
[My thanks to Allan Piper for work on a version of today’s letter.]