Republican who voted to ban trans healthcare now wants kids to drop out of schools to work on farms

Protesters hold a placard that says, "Protect trans youth" and "Gay" as they protest against Republicans attacking LGBTQ+ rights including education on queer topics and trans healthcare

An Indiana Republican who voted to ban gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth has now introduced a bill allowing children to drop out of school and work full-time on farms. 

State representative Joanna King introduced a bill on 8 January that would change child labour laws in the state to allow children to drop out of school after 8th grade (typically 14 to 15 years old) work full-time on farms, LGBTQ Nation reported.

The bill would reportedly allow children to begin working 40 hours a week during school hours on both family and corporate farms, despite Human Rights Watch describing agriculture as the “deadliest work sector” for child workers in the US.

The introduced bill follows several recent attempts to relax child labour laws across the US, with a Florida Republican filing a bill to allow minors to work full-time and overnight in September 2023. 

Civil rights attorney Alejandra Caraballo criticised the bill – which has not yet passed – while anti-LGBTQ+ laws continue to pass in the state.

“In DeSantis’ Florida, teens can work hazardous jobs full-time, but it’s illegal to teach them that LGBTQ+ people exist,” Caraballo said. “It’s not about protecting children.”

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Joanna King was criticised for introducing the child labour bill after she previously sponsored a bill that bans trans young people in Indiana from accessing gender-affirming care, which was blocked from passing in June 2023

At the time, King said a ban would “protect our children from irreversible, harmful, life-altering procedures”. 

Her claims come despite several studies finding that access to gender-affirming care greatly improves the mental health of trans young people, and that puberty blockers are safe and fully reversible

According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), 22 states across America have now banned gender-affirming care for trans young people. 

“These laws are not about safety – as the safety, efficacy and life-saving nature of gender-affirming care for transgender and non-binary youth and adults is clear,” HRC said.

“Instead, in ignoring a wealth of scientific evidence and overwhelming support from the medical community, these legislators are attempting to enshrine discrimination into law.”

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