Arizona governor vetoes anti-trans bathroom bill and vows to protect LGBTQ+ youth

Arizona governor Katie Hobbs, in a blue suit, speaks into a microphone.

Arizona’s Democratic governor has declared that she is prepared to veto every single anti-trans bill that state lawmakers pass to her desk after slapping down an anti-trans bathroom bill.

State governor Katie Hobbs published a succinct letter on Thursday (8 June) announcing that she vetoed Senate Bill 1040 and intends to do the same for every “discriminatory act” that mitigates LGBTQ+ rights.

The bill, introduced by notoriously anti-LGBTQ+ Republican senator John Kavanagh, declares that transgender students in public-funded schools are only to use facilities that correspond with their gender assigned at birth.

This is the latest anti-LGBTQ+ bill pushed by Kavanagh and members of the Republican state legislature, who, like lawmakers across the US, have shown their willingness to impose laws that oppress LGBTQ+ people.

Arizona senator John kavanagh speaks to a member of the audience, standing infront of an American flag.
Republican senator John Kavanagh introduced a wave of anti-LGBTQ+ bills in January. (Getty)

Hobbs made her view on these bills clear in a letter to Republican senator Warren Peterson, writing: “SB1040 is yet another discriminatory act against LGBTQ+ youth passed by the majority at the state legislature.

“As I stated in my veto letter for SB1001, I will veto every bill that aims to attack and harm children.”

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Similarly, Senate Bill 1001 would have forbidden school staff funded by the state to respect the pronouns of trans and non-binary students without explicit parental permission – effectively outing students to their parents.

Hobbs also vetoed SB1005, which would have increased the likelihood of pro-LGBTQ+ schools facing litigation for being supportive of its queer students.

Following her veto of SB1001, she said that lawmakers should be working together to improve equality and freedom within Arizona, rather than attempting to “target and isolate” LGBTQ+ youth.

“To the young students who spoke out against this bill, I promise to always be an ally. Thank you for your courage and leadership,” she wrote.

Human rights groups across the US widely commended Hobbs for her continued support of marginalised groups and thanked her for the latest pushback against hateful legislation.

In a statement, the director of the Arizona Human Rights Campaign said: “Schools should be safe and welcoming places for all students.

“We sincerely thank Governor Hobbs for rejecting SB1040 – a shameful bill designed to alienate and stigmatise trans school personnel and kids simply trying to navigate childhood and their adolescence.

“This discriminatory bill never should have reached the governor’s desk, and we thank Gov. Hobbs for vetoing it.”

US activists continue to fight against unprecedented wave of anti-LGBTQ+ bills

Earlier in 2023, Republican lawmakers across US states introduced a shockingly high number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills ranging from healthcare bans to sanctions on public drag performances.

It’s estimated that 531 bills have been introduced across US state legislatures since the beginning of 2023, according to a community tracker started by independent journalist Erin Reed.

Of those bills, 148 have attempted to ban gender-affirming care, while 80 are trying to silence the discussion of LGBTQ+ topics in schools and 58 would ban trans people from participating in sporting events.

Around 122 are believed to have failed, with the ACLU currently tracking 491 active bills. A whopping 68 have been enacted.

During the initial wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in the US, Kavanagh was among the most notorious for filing spurious and concerning bills, including one that would ban public performances of family-friendly drag.