State senators in Alabama voted this week to pass a bill that seeks to prevent children from obtaining medication and therapy that would change their gender.
The Alabama Senate passed the Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act, or Senate Bill 10, on Tuesday in a 23-4 vote. The bill will now be considered by the state House of Representatives. The state’s House Judiciary Committee advanced a similar companion bill last week.
The proposed laws ban doctors from performing medical procedures, or prescribing hormonal therapy and puberty blockers to minors who wish to transition to another gender. It also prohibits school staff in the state from withholding information from parents or legal guardians that “a minor’s perception that his or her gender or sex is inconsistent with his or her sex.”
Proponents of the bill argue that it is necessary to protect the health and well-being of children as they are not ready to make such decision at such a young age.
“The primary concern here is the health and well-being of Alabama’s children,” Republican Sen. Shay Shelnutt, the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement to media outlets. “We must protect vulnerable minors who do not have the mental capacity to make life-altering decisions of this caliber. The efficacy and effects of these particular surgeries and methods of treatment are not well-sustained by medical evidence, and actions of this severity cannot be undone.”
He added that this bill aims to protect children from the long-term consequences of the drugs and procedures that are irreversable if they wish to undo their gender decision in the future.
The bills have faced opposition from civil rights activists and groups and parents of transgender children. One such group The Trevor Project argues that the bills would increase the risk of self-harm and suicide among transgender youth.
Meanwhile, the Alabama chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) indicated that the bills are likely to be challenged in court in the future. The ACLU is known for frequently taking legal action to advance progressive causes.
Similar measures have been introduced and considered in other state legislatures around the country.But Alabama is the only state that has passed such a bill.
This also comes at a time when the Biden administration is actively pushing policies that expands LGBTQ rights. President Joe Biden has advocated for the passage of the controversial Equality Act that he says would outlaw discrimination against LGBTQ individuals. But critics and religious advocates argue that its application could instead result in discrimination against religious institutions, people of faith, women, and individuals who wish to subscribe to traditional views of gender and sexuality, and shut out dissenters from the public square.
Conservative groups have also raised concerns about the dangers of allowing young children to make consequential decisions that could result in irreversible harm. They’ve also criticized attempts by the government to normalize hormonal and surgical interventions for gender dysphoric children and for pushing ideological “education” in schools.
Instead, conservatives argue that gender identity and sexual orientation politics should be left out of a child’s upbringing.