North Carolina governor vetoes ‘triple threat’ of three anti-LGBTQ+ bills targeting young people

North Carolina governor Roy Cooper

The governor of North Carolina has vetoed three anti-LGBTQ+ bills, condemning them as “a triple threat of [Republican] political culture wars”.

Democrat Roy Cooper vetoed the bills on Wednesday (6 July). One of the proposed laws would ban gender-affirming healthcare for minors, another would restrict female trans participation in school sports and the third sought to limit classroom teaching about gender identity and sexuality. 

PBS reported Cooper as saying the proposed legislation would deny doctors and parents the ability to care for vulnerable children.

He added that the gender teaching bill – which would require public school teachers to alert parents before they call a student by a different name or pronoun, and prohibit teaching about gender identity and sexuality in kindergarten through to fourth-grade classes – would “scare teachers into silence by injecting fear and uncertainty into classrooms”.

The bill banning gender-affirming healthcare would stop medical professionals providing hormone therapy, puberty blockers and gender-affirming surgical procedures to anyone under 18. As in the UK and many other countries, it is already illegal to perform gender-affirming surgery on under-18s in the US.

Young people who had begun treatment with puberty blockers or hormone therapy before 1 August – when this legislation was set to take effect – could continue receiving treatment.

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The trans ban on sports seeks to prohibit transgender girls playing on middle school, high school and college sports teams designated for girls assigned female at birth.

In May, North Carolina’s lieutenant governor, Mark Robinson, who has previously referred to LGBTQ+ people as “filth”, was criticised for falsely claiming “clinics” are performing gender-affirming surgery on five-year-old children, in a comment that stirred up further misinformation around trans healthcare.

Cooper warned that the new policies, if passed, could damage the states reputation and economy as its 2016 “bathroom bill” did. 

The bill, which restricted transgender access to public toilets and banned cities from enacting new anti-discrimination ordinances, was rolled back in 2017 and settled in federal court in 2019

It is unlikely that Cooper’s vetoes will survive override attempts by the Republican majority legislature, but, should the bills pass, they are likely to be challenged in court.

Cooper’s vetoes aren’t the first time the Democrat governor has championed equality. In 2017, he used his inaugural speech to pledge to fight against discrimination, and, two years later, signed an executive order seeking to tackle the practice of so-called conversion therapy.

However, the US is currently seeing a tidal wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation sweeping Republican-controlled state houses. 

In May, the Human Right Campaign announced that more than 520 anti-LGBTQ+ bills had been introduced in state legislature, with more than 220 of these specifically targeting trans and non-binary people. The organisation noted a record 70 anti-LGBTQ laws had been enacted in the US at the time of its report. 

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