By Piper Hutchinson, Louisiana Illuminator

The Louisiana Senate gave final passage to two anti-LGBTQ+ bills Monday that target young transgender and queer students. 

House Bill 466 by Rep. Dodie Horton, R-Haughton, prohibits discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation in public schools. House Bill 81 by Rep. Raymond Crews, R-Bossier City, would prohibit school employees from using transgender students’ preferred names or pronouns unless they have parental approval. 

The bills are part of an unprecedented nationwide barrage of state level bills that target the LGBTQ+ community. While anti-LGBTQ+ legislation has been introduced in Louisiana in the past, it has gotten much further this year than last year when Horton’s proposal did not even make it out of committee

Horton’s proposal was approved on a 29-9 vote with three Democrats, — Sens. Katrina Jackson of Monroe, Gregory Tarver of Shreveport and Gary Smith of Norco — bucking their party to support the bill. 

Sen. Royce Duplessis, D-New Orleans, opposed the proposal, saying it was based on fear rather than a real problem in Louisiana. 

“We have an obvious teacher shortage, and this is another thing teachers are going to have to be concerned about… further, no examples could be cited… as to why this legislation is necessary besides fear,” Duplessis said. 

Horton’s bill is similar to a Florida law referred to by critics as a “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Her proposal is much broader and would apply to K-12 grades, whereas Florida’s law applies only through the third grade.

Horton’s legislation applies to any school employee or volunteer, and it covers discussions in the classroom and during any extracurricular activity, meaning it effectively outlaws Gay Straight Alliance clubs. 

Crews’ House Bill 81 was passed on a 31-8 vote, with Jackson, Smith and Tarver again joining Republicans to support the bill. The trio of Democrats voted for all three pieces of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation the Senate approved Monday. 

No Democrats spoke up in opposition to Crews’ bill. 

While proponents of Crews’ proposal argue the bill prioritizes parental rights, teachers with religious or moral objections could opt to override parental consent to use a student’s given name, also called a deadname, as well as pronouns associated with their sex assigned at birth. Referencing a person by pronouns other than what they identify as is referred to as misgendering. 

There is no recourse for educators who have a religious or moral objection to deadnaming or misgendering their students. 

At the core of Crews’ proposal is his belief that parents have the right to know whether their kids are transgender. 

“I don’t think it’s ever good for the parents to not to know what’s going on in school, and it ensures the rights of parents as primary caregivers to know what’s occurring in their children’s lives,” Crews said when the bill came up in the Senate Education Committee. 

Advocates have raised concerns about what happens when parents find out — and don’t approve. 

A survey from the Trevor Project found that 38% of transgender women, 39% of transgender men, 35% of nonbinary youth experienced homelessness as a result of parental rejection. 

Because both bills were changed by the Senate, they have to go back to the House for approval on amendments. 

Gov. John Bel Edwards has not yet announced whether he would veto the bills, but he has previously stated the onslaught of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation would have a negative impact on the already high suicide rate for transgender Louisianians.

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This article first appeared on Louisiana Illuminator.

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