Alabama is moving forward with a bill that would ban transgender students from using school bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity.
Florida has passed the “don’t say gay bill” that would limit classroom discussions on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Texas has been pushing anti-LGBTQ+ book bans, bills that require CPS to be called on parents of transgender youth, and has been removing LGBTQ+ suicide prevention resources from state websites.
Idaho’s House has passed a bill that makes it a felony for a doctor to provide age-appropriate, gender-affirming care for transgender children.
These bills are horrendous, no doubt. They’re also rallying LGBTQ+ youth to stand up and speak out in record numbers. We asked our Youth Voices to talk about how these attacks are making them feel, and what they’re doing to make a change and look out for their own well-being in the process.
How would these bills affect you and your friends if they were passed in your state?
“When I first came out at my high school, I was asked to use a single-stall bathroom reserved for those with chronic illness and complications that needed to be taken care of in private. And I am here to tell Alabama legislators this — I am not a disease. My transgender identity is not an illness, it is not debilitating, and the rhetoric you are spewing to paint myself and other trans youth as predators is disgusting. That is the disease — your dangerous, close-minded, and unruly ability to paint transgender youth as monsters” – Hailey (she/her), age 17, Alabama
“The bills that are affecting my state (Texas) are the Trans Athlete Ban and the proposed bill that would label parents who support their transgender children as child abusers. These bills would affect me and my friends negatively in so many ways.
The trans athlete ban does not affect me directly since I am nonbinary there is not a team that aligns with my gender identity anyways, but it affects me because I have a lot of trans friends who love sports and it would take away the joy that comes with playing sports. If we can not play on a team that matches our gender identity then we would rather not play at all. It also makes transgender athletes feel less valid because they would have to play on a team that does not align with their actual gender which causes a lot of gender dysphoria which is really bad for the mental health of a demographic that already has a higher percentage of mental health issues. It also causes so much frustration- as all transphobic and homophobic bills do- because we know that it’s not right but grown adults are fighting with us and essentially bullying us because they are close-minded and ignorant.
It makes me sick to even think about it.
The proposed child abuse bill very much directly affects me. It makes me sick to even think about it. It makes me feel scared to be open about being transgender because if I share that with the wrong person my parents could be investigated for child abuse. It makes me feel so sad and scared for me and all the trans kids in Texas because our government has let it be known that they do not support us.” – Elliot (they/them), age 14, Texas
How are you getting involved to speak out or fight back against these laws?
“I am spreading awareness about it on social media and educating myself and others about them. I’m attending protests at my state’s capital. One thing that I plan to do in the future is email members of the Texas Legislature and attempt to persuade them to vote no or not vote at all on anti-LGBTQ+ bills.” – Elliot (they/them), age 14, Texas
“I have been striving to educate people on the bill in my real life and online and be more openly LGBTQ+. People care more when they actually can empathize with someone from the minority.” – Sasha (he/him), age 17, California
“I am getting involved by contacting my local representatives! To be frank, the most I can do right now to take care of myself is just to exist. To be trans, to be hurt, and to process it. To be me.” – Hailey (she/her), age 17, Alabama
What would you like to say to lawmakers considering these bills?
“I want to say to the lawmakers that perpetrated the Alabama transgender bathroom bill this: You’ll have to suspend me. Expel me. Drag me out of the bathroom I am federally guaranteed. I refuse to put myself in danger for you, and I refuse to invalidate myself for your pleasure and gain. You disgust me, and you are inhuman.” – Hailey (she/her), age 17, Alabama
I refuse to put myself in danger for you, and I refuse to invalidate myself for your pleasure and gain.
“LGBTQ + inclusive schools and curriculum is a data-driven approach that saves lives. Stop appealing to the culture war and far-right base and actually pass policy that helps people.” – Zach (he/him), age 18, Maryland
“To the lawmakers considering these bills I would like to say- leave us alone. It is such a weak and disgusting move to make one of the most vulnerable groups of youth- transgender and nonbinary CHILDREN- the target of your hate and bigotry. There are so many other important statewide and nationwide issues that you should be focusing your attention on. Science is on our side, transgender and nonbinary youth are real. We are here, we are valid, we are strong, and we will not stop fighting until we get the rights and respect we deserve.” – Elliot (they/them), age 14, Texas
What does it mean to you to have a supportive environment at your school?
“It means a great deal to have a supportive school environment. School is a place we constantly have to be at, it’s essentially a second home where we should be able to feel comfortable to learn and grow, and stifling us by making school a hostile environment against our very existence is a serious threat to all LGBTQ+ youth, making school an abusive home which is no place for anyone to be.” – Sasha (he/him), age 17, California
Who is inspiring you right now? How so?
“The thousands of students that stand up and fight back against these bigoted bills at great personal risk are truly inspiring and give me immense hope for our future. Everyone can get involved, you don’t have to be publicly protesting every day. You can be tweeting and using social media to spread awareness. You can be calling or writing to your elected representatives. You can be supporting local LGBTQ+ organizers. You can be donating to LGBTQ organizations like the It Gets Better Project. You can be supporting your local school’s GSA. The point is: there is no right way to get involved, so get out there and be the change you want to see in the world.” – Zach (he/him), age 18, Maryland
There is no right way to get involved, so get out there and be the change you want to see in the world.
“When all this news about don’t say gay and the Texas laws started coming out, I was comforted by the other Youth Voices, Rae [It Gets Better’s Education Coordinator], and Justin [It Gets Better’s Director of Programs and Operations]. When it becomes too overwhelming I usually just try to distract myself by reading or watching tv.” – Kiki (she/her), age 14, New Jersey
What is a piece of advice you’d like to pass along?
“A piece of advice that I would like to pass along is you are not alone. I can tell you from personal experience that there were so many people at the protest in Austin on March 1st that we were flooding into the streets. LGBTQ+ youth- you are loved, valid, cared about and we will not stop fighting for our rights. We will win.” – Elliot (they/them), age 14, Texas
“My advice is to keep fighting for what’s right. And don’t let anyone tell you that you’re wrong for being who you are!” – Chloe (they/them), age 15, North Carolina
What have you been doing to take care of yourself and your mental health when the news gets overwhelming?
“To take care of my mental health when the news gets overwhelming, I take a break and do something that makes me happy like drawing or hanging out with my pet rats Finn and Rae. We can not let these bills take away our joy and happiness. If we let the news consume our every waking thought then we have already given the people making the bills exactly what they want.” – Elliot (they/them), age 14, Texas
We can not let these bills take away our joy and happiness.