Georgia hearing: Only anti-trans proponents allowed to speak; those against raise hands

Author: Erin Reed

On Tuesday, the Georgia Senate Committee on Education and Youth met to consider Senate Bill 88, a bill that would promote the forced outing of transgender youth to their parents and restrict LGBTQ+ topics in schools. The bill, which saw a surprise substitute with little time for review, would mandate that schools develop policies around outing transgender students to their parents and would require parents to opt into education on gender-related topics. What happened in the hearing, however, was unusual: Only those in favor of the bill were allowed to speak, leaving those against raising their hands.

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Immediately after the bill’s sponsor spoke about the bill, he ceded the floor to Jeff Cleghorn, a gay anti-trans activist who calls transgender people “mentally ill sex fetishists” and regularly shares content from groups like Gays Against Groomers and Libs of TikTok. Following an incendiary speech in which he advocated for separating transgender individuals from the LGBTQ+ community, Republicans allowed four people to speak. These included a former president of the Young Republicans, a representative from Gays Against Groomers, and a representative from the Georgia Log Cabin Republicans, a group of gay Republican activists. They then abruptly ended the debate, preventing the dozens of attendees opposed to the bill from speaking.

Noting the refusal to hear those who were there to speak against the bill, Senator Donzella James posed a general question to the crowd, asking how many had come to testify against the bill. Hands shot up across the room. Moreover, many of those who did not raise their hands were present because of bills being heard later in the same committee. You can watch the exchange here:

Georgia Anti-Trans Committee Refuses To Hear From Those Against Forced Outing

Republican senators seemed unconcerned with their testimony, however, and proceeded forward to vote. Prior to the vote, Senator Elana Parent raised the point again on a personal consideration, stating, “I just can’t help but point out for everyone that’s here that it does seem fundamentally unfair to… it’s one thing, though I disapprove of it, to allow no testimony. It’s another thing to allow testimony from only one side. That’s black eye on moving ahead on this when there are this many people here.”

The bill then passed 6-3 on a party-line vote.

The text of the new bill was made available privately to this publication. The bill eliminates some provisions related to gay and lesbian topics but maintains restrictions on transgender issues; this might have influenced the decision to have prominent local anti-trans gay Republicans testify on the bill. It continues to mandate that schools create policies to out transgender students to their parents and puts in place a process to develop a set of model policies statewide. Similarly, the model policies approach was employed in Virginia to implement anti-trans school policies statewide by Governor Glenn Youngkin.

The bill is likely headed to the full Senate floor in Georgia for consideration. As of the time of publication, the revised language has yet to appear on the Georgia legislative website. It is one of ten anti-trans bills proposed this year alone, targeting LGBTQ+ and trans individuals in the state. Other proposed legislation includes bills that would end legal recognition of transgender people in Georgia, ban drag in public, ban many LGBTQ+ books, and bar transgender people from restrooms of their gender identity. For those in Georgia looking to speak out against these bills, they must hope that Republicans will allow their voices to be heard.

This article originally appeared on Erin in the Morning.

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Author: Erin Reed

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