The pushback against LGBTQ+ rights has been percolating in Republican-dominated states in the West and South.
Former President Donald Trump recently likened teaching kids about gender and pronouns to “child abuse.”Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis accused his critics of supporting “sexualizing kids in kindergarten.”And South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem debuted an ad that brags, “In South Dakota, only girls play girls’ sports.”
As they gear up for midterm elections, Republicans nationwide are intently focused on passing new restrictions on the LGBTQ community and, in particular, transgender kids. They have passed measures banning school instruction about queer people, outlawing gender-affirming care for those under age 18 and barring transgender children from participating in youth sports.
In many cases the efforts are targeted at transgender youths, a tiny fraction of kids in the US, and LGBTQ advocates and health care professionals have said the types of bills Republicans are pushing are likely to further ostracize transgender kids who already struggle with higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicide.
The GOP-driven efforts are gaining traction by drawing together a constituency of religious conservatives, parents who want sway over classroom curriculum and families concerned that their daughters will be at a disadvantage in their athletic pursuits. Now, a movement that began in red states in starting to spill over into battlegrounds, picking up steam with more prominent national figures — and more moderate audiences.