Idaho criminalizes trans teens and librarians; Georgia “don’t say gay” copycat bill
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The Idaho House of Representatives passed a bill on Tuesday that would bar gender-affirming care for transgender youth. House Bill 675 updates a 2019 law that bans female genital mutilation to also prohibit puberty blockers and gender-affirming hormone therapy. It further criminalizes medical professionals for providing gender-affirming care for transgender children, a charge carrying a life sentence in prison, and makes it a felony for parents to leave the state to provide their transgender children.
“By making it impossible for doctors to provide care for their patients, transgender youth are denied the age-appropriate, best practice, medically-necessary, gender-affirming care that a new study just found reduces the risk of moderate or severe depression by 60% and suicidality by 73%,” the Human Rights Campaign said in a statement.
All Republicans except one, Rep. Fred Wood (a retired physician), voted in favor of the bill. It now proceeds to the state Senate.
The Idaho House passed another draconian bill, this time aimed at criminalizing librarians. HB 666 amends a current law prohibiting the dissemination of “material harmful to minors” to remove the exemption for employees of schools, colleges, museums, and public libraries.
Educators and librarians who allow minors access to material that contains “nudity, sexual conduct…or narrative accounts of sexual conduct” would be subject to a $1000 fine and up to a year in jail. However, a separate section of the law states that material that “possesses serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors” is not considered harmful. The considerable gray area between the proposed bill and the accepted law is where wrongful criminal charges are likely to originate.
House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, worried the bill was subjective and vague. She worried different people would disagree over what is harmful to minors and that librarians would not have clear guidance or protection. “How in the world is any librarian facing potential criminal sanctions going to know,” Rubel said.
While proponents in the House argue HB 666 is meant to ban explicit pornography from reaching minors, during public hearings parents said the bill would protect students from books that feature LGBTQ+ themes.
“How did we go from ‘Pollyanna’ to drag queen for the kids? My daughter’s innocence was violated,” parent Kara Claridge told legislators. “But what happens when kids start acting on these graphic behaviors put forth in these books?”
“The sad reality is children are being taught to be confused about their gender and even groomed into lifestyles they wouldn’t have chosen otherwise,” Claridge added, saying the children’s library is no longer a safe place to take her children.
The same day the Florida legislature passed its “don’t say gay” bill, sending it to Gov. Ron DeSantis to be signed into law, Georgia lawmakers filed similar legislation in their state.
State Sen. Carden Summers introduced SB 613 on Tuesday, combining the GOP’s two main wedge issues into one bill: critical race theory and LGBTQ+ rights. Unlike in Florida, Georgia’s bill bans the discussion of any and all LGBTQ+ topics in private schools, not public schools.
The General Assembly finds as follows: (1) That in recent years, a growing number of Georgia’s private and nonpublic schools have embraced curricula and programs based in critical theory…Additionally some teachers and other personnel in private and nonpublic schools and programs have inappropriately discussed gender identity with children who have not yet reached the age of discretion.
SB 613 claims that “such a focus on racial and gender identity and its resulting discrimination on the basis of color, race, ethnicity, and national origin is destructive to the fabric of American society.”
- Note: The Georgia House has already approved a bill to ban critical race theory in public schools.
A Tennessee judge ordered a new trial for Pamela Moses, a Black woman sentenced to six years in prison for attempting to vote while on probation. Moses voted in 2020 with the understanding that she was no longer on probation, based on an error by the local probation office which signed a certificate confirming she was allowed to vote.
In September 2019, just two days after a probation officer mistakenly signed a certificate telling Moses her probation was complete, officials at the Tennessee department of corrections investigated how exactly their employee made the error. Their investigation didn’t find that Moses had deceived a probation officer, but rather that the officer had made a good-faith mistake.
Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich brought charges against Moses anyway, either intentionally or unintentionally withholding evidence of the probation office’s investigation.
“I gave her a chance to plead to a misdemeanor with no prison time. She requested a jury trial instead. She set this unfortunate result in motion and a jury of her peers heard the evidence and convicted her,” [Weirich] said in a statement.
Moses was sentenced to 6 years in prison, an extremely harsh sentence by any measure, but particularly when compared to those given to white people who knowingly committed voter fraud. Bruce Bartman, a 70-year old white man from Pennsylvania, only received 5 years of probation for felony perjury and unlawful voting in the 2020 election. Bartman intentionally voted for Donald Trump in his dead mother’s name.
- Further reading: “Group asks for racial equity audit of Amy Weirich’s office after Pamela Moses sentencing,” Memphis Commercial Appeal.