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State Legislative Round-Up: Youth & Schools and Transgender

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December 31, 2009

Just as the school year ended, Oregon passed a law adding sexual orientation and gender identity/expression to its anti-bullying law, becoming the seventh state to specifically protect LGBT students from harassment. One month later, North Carolina became the eighth state to do so, when Governor Beverly Purdue signed that state’s first anti-bullying law. The Minnesota legislature passed a similar bill, but it was vetoed by Governor Tim Pawlenty, who had previously said he would sign it. The New York Assembly passed LGBT-specific anti-bullying legislation, but the bill died in the Senate. Bills were also introduced in Arizona, Michigan, Missouri and Virginia.

Legislators in Hawaii overrode a veto from Governor Linda Lingle to pass a law requiring comprehensive, medically accurate sex education in public schools. A similar law was passed and signed in Oregon. A law passed in North Carolina will require information on condoms and prevention of sexually-transmitted infections to be included in the state’s otherwise abstinence-only curriculum. Bills requiring medically accurate sexuality education were also introduced in Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Mississippi and Virginia. A bill was also introduced in Indiana which would require schools teaching abstinence-only sex education to notify parents and allow them to opt-out.

Bills that would require parental permission for student participation in school clubs were introduced in Missouri and Oklahoma, though neither passed. These bills are generally seen as targeting gay-straight alliances (GSAs). Tennessee considered, but did not pass, a bill that would ban any mention of homosexuality in K-8 schools. Arizona considered a non-discrimination bill for children in foster care, which includes LGBT protections. In a particularly heinous move, a South Carolina legislator successfully amended a teen dating violence prevention bill to apply only to opposite-sex couples. The underlying bill died in committee.


Bills that would have added transgender protections to existing non-discrimination laws passed the New York Assembly and New Hampshire House, but both bills failed in the Senate of their respective states. Similar bills were introduced in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maryland.

A bill adding protections for transgender people under state hate crimes laws was passed in Washington. Because Washington’s anti-bullying bill relies on the classes outlined in the hate crimes law, this legislation will also protect transgender students from harassment at school. A bill adding transgender people to the Texas hate crimes law was introduced but never taken up.

Tennessee considered, but did not pass, a pair of bills which would have repealed the state’s ban on changing gender markers on the birth certificates of transgender individuals and would have established a procedure to make such a change. A bill which would have prevented judges from prohibiting sexual reassignment surgery as a condition for custody of a minor child was introduced but not passed in New York.

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