The new conservative aggressiveness is the first factor that helps explain the recent flurry of laws restricting L.G.B.T. rights. The second factor is the political opportunity that some Republicans now see: They recognize that public opinion on gender identity and transgender rights is more conservative than it is on same-sex marriage.
Some of these issues of gender identity are also unavoidably vexing, involving conflicts between one person’s rights and another’s. For example, should transgender girls always be allowed play girls’ sports — even if male puberty gave them physical strength that provides a competitive advantage? (Some feminists and female athletes say no, and some transgender women are torn.) When should schools start to teach children about gender identity? Should schools be required to tell parents if a child switches gender identity at school?
On several of these questions, Republicans see an opportunity to cast Democrats as out of touch. “The right is using trans identity among kids as the wedge,” says our colleague Emily Bazelon, who writes about legal issues.
Bazelon points out that this political strategy relies partly on lies that seem intended to stoke fear and hatred. In Florida, for example, some Republicans have falsely suggested that schools’ lessons about sexuality are really an attempt to “groom” students.
Our summary of the recent laws follows.
‘Don’t say gay’
In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill last week that bans instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity from kindergarten through third grade. The bill also contains vague wording that opponents worry could lead to broader restrictions, effectively trying to erase L.G.B.T. Americans from school lessons.
One example: The law’s preamble calls for “prohibiting classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity.” That phrase has led to opponents’ nickname for the law: “Don’t Say Gay.”
Alabama lawmakers are considering a similar law.
Three states — Arkansas, Arizona, and Texas — have enacted policies limiting gender-affirming treatments (which can involve surgery, hormones, speech therapy and other steps) for children.