February 16, 2023
Virginia Senate Committee Kills Remaining Anti-Trans Bills; No Anti-Trans Legislation Will Pass in Virginia This Legislative Session
Written by: Narissa Rahaman, Executive Director of Equality Virginia and EV Advocates
House-passed bills HB 1387 and HB 2432 targeted trans and nonbinary students
Today, Equality Virginia, the Commonwealth’s leading advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) equality, praised the Virginia Senate Education and Health Committee for killing the two remaining anti-trans bills. With this action, there are no longer any anti-trans bills in the Virginia General Assembly that have a path to passage in the 2023 legislative session. The final two bills killed today were HB 1387 (Greenhalgh), which would prohibit transgender youth in K-12 schools from participating in sports, and impact higher education athletics and club sports, and HB 2432 (LaRock), which would require school staff to “out” transgender and nonbinary students to their parents, regardless of individual consent or consideration of circumstances such as an unsafe home environment.
“As we approach the end of a hard-fought legislative session that saw two anti-trans bills pass the floor of the House of Delegates, all bills targeting trans and nonbinary youth are officially dead for the 2023 legislative session here in Virginia,” said Narissa Rahaman, executive director of Equality Virginia. “These bills targeted young people– especially trans and nonbinary youth – further stigmatizing them at home, at school and in their communities. But everyday Virginians showed up in fierce opposition to all twelve bills and sent a message that hate is not a Virginia value. Policies attacking trans rights have no place in our commonwealth, and that includes Governor Youngkin and the Virginia Department of Education’s anti-trans model guidance, which is still under review. Transgender and nonbinary people deserve a Virginia that celebrates their beauty, and we won’t stop fighting for that reality.”
“Far too often, society’s message to transgender children and youth is that they don’t belong and that they should not be seen for who they are. These bills continue to perpetuate bigotry and discrimination, and the Senate’s Democratic majority has been able to stop their harm,” said Senator Ghazala Hashmi, Chair of the Senate Public Education Subcommittee. “We need to focus on funding our schools, providing mental health services, supporting our teachers and ensuring safe learning environments. It’s time to stop these culture wars that target trans kids.”
“House Republicans should be ashamed that they’re attacking Virginia kids,” said House Democratic Leader Don Scott. “Let’s be clear about what laws like this will do: remove safe spaces to speak to a trusted adult and out students to their parents before they feel safe to do so. I have had enough of the MAGA Caucus using our children as political pawns in their culture wars.”
“’Six years ago, the people of Haymarket, Gainesville, Manassas and Manassas Park made it clear that bills targeting LBGTQ+ youth have no place in our Commonwealth after years of legislative attacks,” said Delegate Danica Roem (D-13). “After heeding that message for the next four years, some legislators decided singling out and stigmatizing their own constituents would be politically salient – and their bills are now dead. Trans kids should know that they can still be themselves in school, they can still go through the Virginia High School League appeals process to play sports, and they still have a voice in their state government. It is vital we elect pro-equality majorities this fall to protect their rights and provide the peace of mind for these kids to be able to just be kids without having to worry about their elected officials. They should be able to be who they are, be that well and thrive because of who they are – not despite it.”
This year, anti-equality legislators have launched an unprecedented legislative assault on LGBTQ+ people in state legislatures across the country– surpassing 2022 as the worst year on record for introducing and enacting anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.
Legislators have proposed 320+ anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the first two months of the year— a new record. About 200+ of these target trans rights, specifically trans kids – excluding them from sports, prohibiting them from using school bathrooms, preventing them from accessing life-saving medical care.
As many as 86% of trans youth say that they are watching these debates over their identity play out. The direct results of these bills when they pass are to take away things that we know are correlated with increased mental health and decreased suicide risk: sports team participation, seeing yourself represented in a classroom, being accepted by your parents and your healthcare professionals. These are all associated with significantly lower odds of attempting suicide.
This session, Equality Virginia tracked over two dozen anti-LGBTQ+ bills that directly targeted LGBTQ+ people, and in particular, transgender Virginians. Here’s a brief summary of the 12 transgender-related bills that were introduced this year in Virginia, all of which are now dead:
EQUALITY VIRGINIA OPPOSED:
SB791, SB1203, and SB960 (gender-affirming healthcare ban): These bills would prohibit healthcare professionals from providing or referring transgender teenagers for life saving, age-appropriate health care. It also erodes current protections prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity in health insurance and requiring coverage of gender affirming care for adults by making that coverage optional.
HB1387, HB1399, SB911, SB962, and SB1186 (trans athlete ban): These bills would ban transgender students from participating in sports teams that match their gender identity and discriminate against them based on harmful myths about trans athletes.
HB1707 (forced outing): HB1707 would require school counselors and all school staff to forcibly “out” trans students to their parents, regardless of the safety of their home. It would lead to further stigmatization and harm of trans youth.
HB2432 (forced outing): In addition to the dangerous forced outing similar to HB1707, HB2432 seeks to narrow the legal definition of “abuse and neglect” when it is applied to trans kids.
HB1434 (forced outing): HB1434 would require a court order to change a student’s name on any school record. Such a requirement is unnecessary and risks creating a hostile learning environment.
HB2170 (forced outing): would require parental consent and notification whenever a student participates in a school club, such as a Gender-Sexuality Alliance or Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club. In effect, it would deter youth from joining certain school clubs out of fear of being outed.
EV Advocates (EVA) is a 501(c)(4) organization that works with Equality Virginia (EV) to advance equal rights for LGBTQ Virginians through public policy and advocacy.