A wave is sweeping the country. It’s not the famed “red wave” or even a “blue wave,” but a wave of legislation. Dozens of bills introduced by Republicans across the country are, unsurprisingly, openly discriminatory and dangerous.
In 2022, 137 bills were introduced that restricted school curriculum regarding topics such as race and gender. There have also been 382 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced across various states in the 2023 legislative session. Just to remind you, it’s only March.
It can be easy to stop thinking about these bills because they’re so regional. As long as they’re not in your state, they’re practically irrelevant. But here in Indiana, conservatives are introducing an increasing number of these hateful bills.
[Related: OPINION: Transphobia knows no borders]
First, let’s take a look at the whopping 17 anti-LGBTQ bills that have been introduced in Indiana this year alone.
Bills like SB 480 and HB 1525 focus on minors receiving gender-affirming care. Specifically, they both prohibit medical practitioners from providing what basically amounts to life-saving care for many transgender people.
There’s been a lot of ink spilled about minors receiving gender-affirming care. In reality, however, many of these procedures can be safe and noninvasive. Puberty blockers, which would be prohibited under these laws, are reversible, but conservative still have an issue with them. It’s because of repressive laws like these that 42% of LGBTQ youth in 2021 considered suicide.
But, of course, these individuals will grow up. While they may be prohibited from getting care as minors, they can get it when they’re adults. But other laws prevent even adult transgender people from expressing themselves fully.
HB 1524, for example, forbids anyone from changing their legal gender identifier to one that doesn’t match their birth certificate when they were born. Frankly, this is a huge overstep of governmental powers. Is there a real threat constituted by people simply changing a single letter on their driver’s license?
Along with this, more bills are being introduced restricting education.
HB 1608 restricts “human sexuality instruction” for kids below grade 4. That term is so vague that it’s almost meaningless, but lawmakers understand what they mean by the term. Talk about straight marriage all you want, but as soon as gay people are brought up, it’s game over.
The bill also specifies that trans kids must have a parent request that teachers and staff use a different name and pronouns. If the student does this themselves, the school is required to notify their parents. Even after this request, if transphobic teachers still refer to the student by their deadname, they legally can’t be punished.
Being trans in the public school system really sucks. Trust me – I was trans in the public school system. This law will only make things far worse for the myriad of transgender minors who will be forced to go by a name and pronouns they don’t identify with lest they get outed to their parents.
To go even further, SB 12 allows parents to complain about “inappropriate” content in school libraries and forbids these libraries from containing material with “matters harmful to children.” Whatever that means. It’s pretty clear that “harmful” material is whatever these lawmakers disagree with politically.
[Related: Meet the candidates running for Mayor of Bloomington]
What do all of these bills have in common? They’re all authored by Republicans, and they’re all horrible ideas. Republicans claim to be the party of “small government,” but when it comes to groups they dislike, they’re more than willing to overstep what should be clear lines.
It’s tough to know what to do in situations where elected officials fail you in every conceivable way. The best thing to do in my eyes is to make your voice heard. Tell people about these laws and their potential impacts. Find your elected representatives and tell them how you feel.
Most of all, keep hope. Hate is temporary, but movements live on. We’ve survived before. We’re going to survive again.
Danny William (they/them) is a freshman studying media.