Our week of advocacy began with some questionable tactics from members of Georgia’s Senate Education and Youth Committee. Despite visible opposition, the committee passed Senate Bill 88, which has the potential to censor conversations about gender identity in Georgia schools and undermine the experiences of LGBTQ+ youth. 

Testimony for SB 88 was limited to 15 minutes. Only supporters of the bill were allowed to speak. Luckily, Sen. Donzella James asked everyone in the packed committee room who showed up to oppose the bill to raise their hands. Roughly half those in attendance raised their hands. Put simply, the people showed up, but the committee’s majority didn’t listen. The bill will now go to the Senate floor for a full vote. The ACLU of Georgia and a coalition of LGBTQ+ advocates are urging Georgians to contact lawmakers and tell them to vote “No.” Here’s what you should know: 

  • The First Amendment protects conversations about gender identity in schools. 
  • Educators are equipped to guide, not indoctrinate, students who are exploring real world topics, including gender identity.
  • Gender identity conversations will still be permissible in religious schools, giving them the ability to promulgate transphobic rhetoric in attempts to “convert” LGBTQ+ youth. 

Opposing discrimination against non-citizens

ACLU of Georgia First Amendment Policy Advocate Sarah Hunt-Blackwell testified Wednesday in opposition to House Bill 1093. The bill aims to block non-U.S. citizens from purchasing and owning agricultural land or any land within 10 miles of critical infrastructure facilities in Georgia.

Hunt-Blackwell informed lawmakers they risked violating people’s equal protection rights, all on unsupported claims of improving national security. “We have seen similar strategies deployed throughout history, and they have proven to be damaging to immigrant communities and generally unsuccessful when challenged in courts nationwide,” she said.

Protecting Pregnant Workers

We supported a good piece of legislation late Thursday when Hunt-Blackwell testified in favor of Senate Bill 283, aka the Pregnancy Protection Act. The bill ensures pregnant workers and job applicants in Georgia aren’t forced off the job and get the accommodations they need, without facing discrimination or retaliation just for being pregnant. 

Most importantly, SB 283 is part of the economic, physical, and emotional protections pregnant people need to thrive.

The Digital World

It’s the second consecutive legislative session that we’ve lobbied for a digital privacy protection law. Policy Counsel Ben Lynde has proposed the introduction and passage of a common sense measure. So, we’re working with lawmakers to improve Senate Bill 473, the Georgia Consumer Privacy Protection Act. 

The bill doesn’t meet the minimum standards required to protect people’s privacy and would normalize a status quo that protects big tech companies’ profits. “Consumer privacy legislation must contain strong restrictions on the amount of personal information that can be collected and the ways in which it can be used,” Lynde told the committee, which tabled the bill for review.

Two weeks ago, we warned you about two bills aimed at restricting social media users from uploading deceptive “deep fake” content about candidates up to 90 days before an election and creating a new criminal offense of election interference with a deep fake. Following our testimony, lawmakers added necessary protections to House Bill 986 for journalists and for works of parody and satire; some of the proposed criminality was reduced, too.

Subscribe to our 2024 Legislative Session bill tracker. You can find it here. We’ve been adding to it over the past several weeks, so please take a look at our expanded priorities for the session.