Louisiana is currently on the verge of passing a package of bills that could harm LGBTQ+ youths. The legislation is feared by opponents to negatively impact the lives of young people in the community. The bills are similar to those that have failed in the past but are more likely to succeed this time around. Louisiana’s legislature session is coming to a close, but the bills are still progressing steadily.
These bills are part of a trend among Republican-dominated legislatures across the United States to target various aspects of transgender existence. These aspects include pronoun usage, bathroom access, medical care, and more. All the bills in Louisiana have gained legislative approval mainly along party lines in both the House and Senate. They will go back to their chambers, where they have already passed with strong majorities, for lawmakers to approve the mostly minor amendments. Legislators will then send the revised legislation to Gov. John Bel Edwards.
It is unclear whether Edwards, who has expressed opposition to such legislation, will veto any of the measures. Last year, Edwards chose not to veto a Louisiana law banning transgender athletes from participating in women and girls’ sports events, saying that vetoing it would be overridden.
If Edwards rejects any of the bills, lawmakers will convene a veto session to try to override his decision. In order to override a veto, both the House and Senate would need a two-thirds vote. Since Republicans hold a two-thirds majority in both chambers, it is possible that they could override Edwards’ veto.
Here are the LGBTQ+-related bills that have passed in Louisiana and are still awaiting final passage:
Don’t Say Gay Bill
A bill that would broadly ban K-12 public school employees in Louisiana from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity in the classroom has passed the Senate. Opponents view this bill as a targeted attack on the LGBTQ+ community. Critics say that instead of protecting students, the legislation would harm the already vulnerable community, as research suggests transgender children and adults face heightened risks of stress, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Proponents argue that the bill is a parental rights measure, allowing parents to broach “sensitive topics” of gender identity and sexual orientation with their children when and how they best see fit.
A measure requiring public school teachers in Louisiana to use the pronouns and name that align with a student’s sex assigned at birth has passed in the Senate. A parent can give written consent for pronouns, not consistent with the student’s sex assigned at birth, to be used. However, a teacher can override the parent’s request if it goes against their own religious or moral values. The pronoun legislation in Louisiana is part of a wave of interchangeable bills being considered in statehouses across the nation that would formally allow or require schools to deadname transgender students or could out them to their parents without consent. Deadnaming refers to using the name that a transgender person used before transitioning.
Gender-affirming Care Ban
One bill that has received statewide and national attention would prohibit hormone treatments, gender-affirming surgery, and puberty-blocking drugs for transgender minors in Louisiana. The legislation had been killed by a Senate committee last month but was successfully resurrected amid mounting pressure from state Attorney General Jeff Landry and the Republican Party of Louisiana. The Senate passed the gender-affirming medical care ban for transgender youths on Monday. The measure will go back to the House to approve amendments, including pushing back the effective date of the law to Jan. 1, 2024.
Library Book Restrictions
The Senate passed a bill on Monday that requires public libraries in Louisiana to create a card system that would prevent children from checking out “sexually explicit material” unless they have parental approval. The legislation would also allow parents to bring books they feel are inappropriate to a local board for material review. Republicans say the bill is not designed to target a specific group but to protect children from accessing inappropriate material and strengthening parental rights. Opponents worry that LGBTQ+-related content could be censored and the bill addresses an issue that is not an immediate problem.