Respect Equality

Ten laws impacting LGBTQ+ rights set to take effect today

Laws in Alabama, Florida, Indiana, South Dakota, Tennessee and Utah come into effect today.

Ten laws restricting how LGBTQ+ people – particularly LGBTQ+ youth – are able to participate in school sports or spoken about in the classroom will take effect today.

Alabama House Bill 322

In April, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed into law a bill preventing transgender students from using facilities like restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity. An amendment to the law also bars kindergarten through fifth grade educators from engaging in classroom instruction related to sexual orientation and gender identity in a manner that is not “age appropriate or developmentally appropriate.”

Florida House Bill 1557

One of the most highly publicized measures of the year, Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law – dubbed by its critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” law –  will prevent public primary school teachers from engaging in classroom instruction related to sexual orientation or gender identity.

Public school educators through high school will be prohibited from addressing either topic with their students in a manner that is not “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate.” Parents will also be given greater authority to take legal action against school districts they believe to be in violation of the law.

Florida House Bill 7

Florida’s Individual Freedom Act prevents workplaces and schools in the state from requiring training or instruction that may make some people feel they bear “personal responsibility” for historic wrongdoings because of their “race, color, sex or national origin.”

The measure has also been called the “Stop WOKE Act” by the state’s Republican governor Ron DeSantis, where woke is used as an acronym for “Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees.”

Indiana House Bill 1041

The now-law prevents transgender women and girls through high school from competing on sports teams consistent with their gender identity.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican, in March vetoed the measure, writing in a letter that he believes the bill does not solve a problem that exists in Indiana. The state legislature later voted to override the governor’s veto.

South Dakota Senate Bill 46

In February, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) signed into law the year’s first transgender athlete ban.

Under the law, transgender women and girls through high school are barred from playing on sports teams that match with their gender identity. Students and schools that “suffer any direct or indirect harm” from the law being violated are permitted to take legal action.

South Dakota House Bill 1012

Much like Florida’s “Stop WOKE Act,” this new South Dakota law was designed to “protect students and employees at institutions of higher education from divisive concepts” related to race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity or national origin.

Under the measure, colleges and universities are not restricted in their ability to teach certain courses or subject matter, but “forced” or “compelled” speech in college orientations or trainings is prohibited.

Tennessee House Bill 1895

In April, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed into law a measure to pull funding from state schools that allow transgender students to play on sports teams consistent with their gender identity, doubling down on an existing Tennessee law which already bars transgender athletes from playing on sports teams inconsistent with their sex assigned at birth.

The new law requires Tennessee’s education commissioner to “withhold a portion of the state education finance funds” from local school districts that fail or refuse to determine a student-athlete’s gender using the student’s “original” birth certificate.

Tennessee Senate Bill 2153

In May, Lee signed an additional law prohibiting “males from participating in public higher education sports that are designated for females.” The legislation requires Tennessee colleges to determine a student-athlete’s gender using the student’s “original” birth certificate.

Under the law, any government entity, organization or athletic association is barred from taking “an adverse action” against a school that complies with the law or a student who reports a violation. 

If evidence of a violation is found which “deprives a student of an athletic opportunity or causes direct or indirect harm to the student,” the affected student will have a private cause of action for injunctive relief, damages and “any other relief available under law.”

Tennessee House Bill 2454

This law expands an existing requirement that internet vendors block “obscenity and pornography” on school computers. Previously, an exception to the law was education material. That is no longer the case.

LGBTQ+ advocates worry the law will be used to restrict access to resources about LGBTQ+ issues and identities, which Tennessee lawmakers have made clear they believe are inappropriate for children.

Utah House Bill 11

The new Utah law bars transgender women and girls from competing on sports teams that match their gender identity.

Gov. Spencer Cox (R) vetoed the measure, which requires school sports teams be determined by the players’ sex assigned at birth, in March.

“Rarely has so much fear and anger been directed at so few. I don’t understand what they are going through or why they feel the way they do. But I want them to live,” Cox wrote in a veto letter at the time. “And all the research shows that even a little acceptance and connection can reduce suicidality significantly.”

Cox’s veto was later overridden by the legislature.