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LGBTQ+ students focus of new Alabama legislation

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The pushback continues in Alabama over a series of bills dealing with LGBTQ youth.

One of the most controversial of the new laws requires transgender youth to use bathrooms of their biological sex in public schools. An amendment was also added to the bill that prohibits elementary school teachers from discussing sexuality in class.

Lawmakers got the idea for the amendment from a Florida bill that opponents are calling the “don’t say gay” law.

Scott McCoy is the Deputy Legal Director for LGBTQ Rights at the Southern Poverty Law Center. He said the bill and its amendment could increase discrimination.

“We know that that kind of stigma and discrimination has real world consequences. It affects people’s health and mental health," he said. "LGBTQ students are already at a greater risk of suicidal ideation and depression, and this will only exacerbate that.” 

McCoy said this latest legislation comes from a misunderstanding.

“It’s grounded in a misunderstanding about LGBTQ people and their families and a lot of fear. I think there is a large religious aspect to that as well," he said. "I think if these lawmakers had an opportunity to meet LGBTQ students, it might start to change some hearts and minds.” 

Governor Kay Ivey and Republican politicians argue that the bill is a commonsense measure to protect children.

Libby Foster is a news intern for Alabama Public Radio.
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