Gay senator vows to protect trans kids in tearful speech: ‘The world can be tough and scary’

Nebraska’s first out gay senator gave an emotional speech in support of trans kids across the state and the wider US.

Senator John Fredrickson gave a tearful speech during a Friday (5 April) legislative session, telling the people of Nebraska that he would fight for their rights.

“I stand here today, confidently, to tell you if you love your kids unconditionally for who they are, and if they know they’re loved, you can weather a lot.”

His speech came during a debate in Nebraska’s state capitol on a bill that would bar trans students from facilities that correspond with their gender identity.

The bill, dubbed the Sports and Spaces Act, would have banned trans kids from bathrooms, locker rooms and sports teams that fit their identity. An amendment to the bill would also effectively ban trans-masc students from sports competitions completely.

While debating the bill, Fredrickson, who has a son with his husband, said that as a gay parent, he knows how it feels for his family to be discriminated against.

“The world can be tough and scary,” he said. “I personally know a thing or two about having a family that many people might say is not normal.”

The senator continued by telling those families who have trans kids to “surround yourself with the people who love you” over the weekend, and to ignore those in the Senate who voted in favour of the anti-trans bill.

“Don’t spend a minute of your energy or time thinking about any of my colleagues in here who are too scared of difference to allow themselves to understand and celebrate the beauty and joy that you bring to our state.”

Nebraska anti-trans sports bill about ‘the imagination of a bigot’ senator says

The Sports and Spaces Act failed to end a filibuster after a vote of 31 – 15 fell short of the 33 votes required to advance the bill. Fredrickson was among the 15 to vote against the bill.

It failed by an incredibly slim margin after senators Tom Brand and Merv Riepe, who initially cosponsored the bill alongside senator Kathleen Kauth, abstained from voting.

It is effectively dead for the rest of the year, with Nebraska’s legislative session ending this week.

Kauth, the bill’s only sponsor, claimed there was a “significant sports performance gap between the sexes” and that the bill “protects sex inequity.”

However, several senators on the Capitol floor criticised Kauth’s claims and accused her of bigotry.

Senator Megan Hunt called out Kauth during the debate, saying the bill is “not about protecting women” but about the “danger and the power of the imagination of a bigot, senator Kauth, and those who would support a bill like this.”

At least four anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been filed in Nebraska since the start of 2024, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), these include bills aiming to ban public drag performances, bills allowing medical professionals to discriminate against trans people, and more.