As South Carolina lawmakers convene for the 2023 legislative session, rights advocates prioritize the defeat of nearly a dozen anti-LGBTQ+ bills. and defending LGBTQ+ dignity.
January 10 marked the official start of the 2023 South Carolina legislative session, and advocates for LGBTQ+ people in the state are ready to defend the community at the statehouse. More than a dozen bills have been introduced to attack LGBTQ+ people. They include:
- Anti-Transgender Healthcare Bills (H.3551, S.243, S.274), which would prohibit transgender-related healthcare. One bill blocks care for people under the age of 21. Two of the bills require school staff to “out” LGBTQ+ students to their parents, potentially before they are ready to share.
- Anti-LGBTQ Youth Policy Bills (S.234, H.3197, H.3485), which amount to an anti-LGBTQ “wish list” of limits on LGBTQ+ young people and their families, prioritizing the rights of some parents over others. The provisions in these bills would censor curriculum, block students’ freedom to learn, force school staff to “out” LGBTQ+ students to parents, interfere with young people’s access to life-saving medical care, and endanger the livelihood of all South Carolina students.
- Broad Anti-Transgender Erasure Bill (S.276), which would require South Carolina to recognize a person’s sex at birth as their gender for the purpose of all state laws; implications include not being able to change driver’s license gender markers and having to apply for public programs such as SNAP and Medicaid with a gender marker that does not match who you are.
- Curriculum Censorship Bills (H.3284, H.3304, H.3464, H.3466, S.246), which seek to censor curriculum that speaks about racial injustice, LGBTQ identity, and more.
- Abortion Bans (H.3490, H.3552, S.240), which seek to again restrict abortion access in South Carolina.
Domenico Ruggerio, a leader in the SC United for Justice & Equality coalition who also serves as Executive Director of We Are Family, said:
“It’s clear that anti-LGBTQ+ forces once again have their eyes set on South Carolina, and it’s painful to read this new slate of cruel legislation that would make life harder for transgender youth and all LGBTQ+ students. These bills show how lawmakers are attempting to interfere with private medical care (including for adults), censor curriculum, and make school staffers agents of the state by forcing them to ‘out’ LGBTQ+ students. Our community will fight harder than ever against these hostile and extreme attacks and instead set our sights on a future where all South Carolinians can thrive.”
In the 2022 session LGBTQ+ and allied South Carolinians fought back against a similar slate of discriminatory legislation and blocked or delayed advancement of many of the bills. Two bills – H.4608, which restricts school sports participation for transgender students, and H.4776, a broad anti-LGBTQ “license to discriminate” in healthcare settings – passed and were signed by Gov. Henry McMaster.
In the weeks ahead, advocates from the SC United for Justice & Equality coalition are available to speak with media about this slate of legislation and its damaging impact on transgender youth, LGBTQ+ people, and the community more broadly.
The coalition advocates for the passage of legislation to protect LGBTQ community members and opposes anti-LGBTQ legislation. The coalition also works on intersecting issues of social justice, including racial justice, reproductive justice, voting rights, and health care access. www.southcarolinaunited.org