So far during the 2023 Georgia Legislative Session, lawmakers have introduced at least four bills attacking LGBTQ rights, especially transgender youth. We’re tracking these attacks at the Capitol and working with partners to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights.

Today, an ACLU of Georgia attorney planned to go before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee to oppose two more bills introduced this session that seek to diminish the rights of transgender people. Public testimony was cut short, however.

Senate Bill 140 prohibits gender affirming surgical procedures for minors and subjects licensed physicians to medical board violations for performing gender affirming surgeries. First Amendment Policy Advocate Sarah Hunt-Blackwell wrote in her prepared testimony that access to gender affirming care is medically necessary and saves lives. 

“Second, it is intrusive for this body to remove choice from Georgia families and politicize medical care for minors in this state,” Hunt-Blackwell said.

Under Senate Bill 141, which would require school staff to notify a student's parents if they report having gender dysphoria, vulnerable youth would be outed. 

“A person’s decision to share their transgender identity is highly personal, and should not be prematurely coerced by anyone,” she said.

While these bills are presented as being “protective,” they will actually create harmful environments and take away protections for LGBTQ+ teens, people, and all Georgians. We and others are explaining exactly how harmful this legislation is through testimony at Senate and House committee meetings, pointing out flaws and contradictions within bills’ proposed language. Unfortunately, these bills being introduced in Georgia are a large-scale attack on transgender rights and some lawmakers’ obsessive attempts to erase the visibility of an entire community.

This trend is happening nationwide. A total of 315 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced in state legislatures across the U.S. last year, according to Movement Advancement Project, a nonprofit think tank. The number of such bills introduced so far in 2023 already exceeds that total, and exceeds all anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in 2012, 2013, and 2014 combined, according to MAP. In Georgia, they include Senate bills 88, 140, 141, and 188, according to the ACLU anti-LGBTQ bill tracker.  

The goal of these bills is to eliminate the visibility of LGBTQ+ people from society by restricting their self-expression at schools and elsewhere, as is the case with SB 88; by banning gender affirming procedures so transgender people can’t be themselves; and silencing supporters through lawsuits, fines, and other penalties aimed at parents, teachers, and doctors who identify as allies.

In the case of SB 88, aka Georgia’s “don’t say gay” bill, the sponsors claim to protect parents’ rights by giving them more authority over the content of educational materials. However, as pointed out by Wake Forest Law faculty member Marie-Amélie George in a recent Atlanta-Journal Constitution opinion piece, the bill’s real effect would be to harm children.

“Schools are perilous places for LGBTQ teens, who disproportionately suffer verbal harassment and physical abuse at the hands of their prejudiced peers. The consequences of this abuse are all too often deadly …  LGBTQ teens at schools with LGBTQ-inclusive policies report lower levels of victimization and abuse, as well as higher levels of self-esteem, lower levels of depression, and decreased thoughts of suicide,” George wrote.