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Alabama Senate passes ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, transgender bathroom restrictions – AL.com

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The Alabama Senate passed its own version of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law Thursday after a surprise amendment to a transgender bathroom bill.

At the start of debate Thursday, an amendment was offered that would stop K-5 elementary teachers from “instruction” on sexuality and gender.

Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law, widely called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, last month that said “classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”

New: Alabama lawmakers pass ban to criminalize hormone treatment for minors.

The Senate cut off debate on the amendment after several minutes of complaints from Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro.

Singleton asked the sponsor of the amendment, Sen. Shay Shelnutt, R-Trussville, who is also sponsoring a bill that would criminalize gender-affirming care for children, if it’s allowed for “little Johnny” to ask a teacher if he’s a boy or a girl.

“Little Johnny, you’re a boy,” Shelnutt responded.

“You just answered the question based on gender,” Singleton responded.

The bill passed the Senate 26-5. Since it was amended, it needs to go back to the House for final approval.

In addition to instructional limits, the bill requires students to use school bathrooms and locker rooms that match the sex on their birth certificate.

The Alabama State Board of Education does not have a policy that regulates bathroom use by transgender students.

Rep. Scott Stadthagen, R-Hartselle, in previous discussions about the bill, said some school districts are being asked to accommodate transgender students who request to use the bathrooms that align with their gender identity. Stadthagen said that is causing problems in schools in his district and around the state.

Stadthagen denied that his bill targeted transgender students, saying it was about female students’ safety. He cited recent examples of male students who had demanded access to girls’ bathrooms — but none of the students involved were trangender.

LGBTQ families and advocates have opposed the bill, saying it further stigmatizes LGBTQ children.

“If passed in the Senate and signed into law, the bill would further discriminate against and restrict students who already feel unsafe in school, suffer academically, and have a higher likelihood of dropping out of school,” the Human Rights Campaign said Wednesday, citing research that shows that a startling 85% of transgender or gender non-binary youth say their mental health has been negatively affected by these legislative attacks.

The Alabama House passed the bill in Februrary.

A bill that would stop teachers from forcing students to agree with certain “divisive concepts” is not on the agenda and may not receive final passage Thursday.

Meanwhile, in the last day of the session, a bill to ban medical treatments for transgender minors passed the House and will move to the governor for signature. Alabama lawmakers have proposed the bill for three years, despite vocal opposal from LGBTQ children and families, medical professionals and educators. It has passed the Senate but has never come up for a vote in the House.

Read more: Alabama parents, advocates fear children will be outed, cut off from treatment if bill passes.

A Virginia school board’s effort to stop a student from using the boy’s bathroom was struck down last year.

Federal officials have said they consider transgender students protected under Title IX, which bars education discrimination on the basis of sex and gender.