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LGBTQ advocates, lawmakers rebuke North Carolina laws targeting trans youth in Pride Month push

Kyle Ingram, The News & Observer on

Published in News & Features

RALEIGH, N.C. — Following a spate of new laws targeting transgender youth and students, advocates for the LGBTQ+ community gathered at the state legislature on Wednesday to condemn the legislation and push for further protections.

Organized by Equality NC, a coalition of progressive groups met with lawmakers and delivered speeches outside the Legislative Building as part of the group’s annual LGBTQ Advocacy Day.

Speakers railed against new laws aimed at LGBTQ+ people that the Republican-dominated General Assembly passed last year.

Voting almost entirely along party lines, Republican lawmakers banned transgender women from participating in women’s school sports, banned gender-affirming medical care for minors and passed restrictions on LGBTQ+ curricula in elementary schools.

“We are united, unwavering, to protecting the progress we’ve made, creating safer and more supportive environments for our youth, and ensuring all individuals regardless of their gender identity can live free from discrimination and fear,” said Gaby Garcia-Vera, interim deputy director of La Fuerza NC.

Republican lawmakers who sponsored the bills argued last year that they were intended to protect children and female athletes.

Last year, Sen. Amy Galey, an Alamance County Republican, accused critics of the bills of supporting the “pushing of parents out of their child’s public school education,” adding that they “support keeping the truth about a student’s mental health from parents and telling lies and resist every effort to keep sex out of elementary schools or to remove inappropriate materials.”

Natalie Frazier, the gender-affirming care program director for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, noted that leading medical organizations oppose bans on gender-affirming care.

“We need a government that supports all people — not one that bullies our trans youth by passing hateful, medically unnecessary laws,” Frazier said.

Sen. Lisa Grafstein, the only openly LGBTQ+ member of the state Senate, joined the speakers and noted that Wednesday marked the eighth anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting, where a gunman killed nearly 50 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

“What we know from that is that there’s still danger, there’s still hatred, there’s still violence directed at the queer community,” she said. “What we also know is that that kind of violence is fueled by the ways in which people are talked about in public forums, by the ways that our elected representatives talk about the LGBTQ community, by the policies that are enacted, that are marginalizing and that are harmful to our lives.”

Discussions surrounding LGBTQ+ issues have been top of mind as the country celebrates Pride Month.

 

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper started off the month by officially proclaiming June to be LGBTQ Pride Month in North Carolina.

“This month, we celebrate LGBTQ+ North Carolinians who make our state stronger even in the face of targeted attacks,” Cooper said in a press release. “We salute the pioneers whose decades-long fight for equality has brought great progress, yet we recognize that prejudice and hatred still persist and must not prevail.”

President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign hosted a Pride Month press conference with several of North Carolina’s LGBTQ+ lawmakers last week.

“As a member of the LGBTQ+ community in North Carolina and one of only six LGBTQ+ legislators in the state, I feel a responsibility to sound the alarm about the greatest threat to our community: Donald Trump going back to the White House,” Rep. Allison Dahle said.

Joined by Reps. Vernetta Alston, Marcia Morey and Deb Butler, Dahle warned that another Trump presidency could result in more anti-LGBTQ+ judges being appointed, the promotion of conversion therapy and the potential repeal of same-sex marriage protections.

They praised Biden’s record on LGBTQ+ issues, noting that he was an early supporter of same-sex marriage and signed the Respect for Marriage Act in 2022.

“With Joe Biden, we have a president who fights for the freedom and respect and the dignity of every American — no matter who they are or who they love,” Morey said. “With Donald Trump, we are all at risk.”

Last month, Trump said he would repeal an executive order issued by the Biden administration that includes sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under Title IX.

“We’re gonna end it on day one,” he said on a Philadelphia conservative radio show. “Don’t forget, that was done as an order from the president. That came down as an executive order. And we’re gonna change it — on day one it’s gonna be changed.”

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©2024 The News & Observer. Visit at newsobserver.com. Distributed at Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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