BOISE, Feb. 15 (AP) — A bill to criminalize gender-affirming health care for minors passed the Idaho House of Representatives Thursday overwhelmingly, even as opponents warned it could increase Youth suicide rate.
The bill, which would make felony charges against doctors offering puberty blockers, hormone therapy or gender-affirming surgery to transgender youth under the age of 18, is just one of several bills enacted this year targeting LGBTQ+ residents in Idaho.
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Supporters of the bill acknowledge that Idaho does not currently perform gender-affirming surgery on minors.
Republican Rep. Bruce Skaug of Nampa said the legislation was necessary to “protect children” and that puberty blockers and hormone treatments could cause permanent harm. But all major medical organizations, including the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American Psychiatric Association, support gender-affirming care for adolescents.
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Many of these organizations have also issued policy statements opposing attempts to legislate to limit such care.
This year, Republican lawmakers in more than two dozen states have pushed to ban gender-affirming care, targeting care that is widely deemed medically necessary by doctors and psychologists.
The Idaho bill passed in a vote close to party lines, with only one Republican voting against it. Rep. Matthew Bundy of Mountain Home said he voted against it because it did not provide strong enough assurances that transgender children and their families would still have access to counseling services.
Rep. Chris Mathias, D-Boise, said transgender youth have self-harmed and taken their own lives at a disturbing rate.
“This bill will shine a light on this issue,” he said.
A regional affiliate of Planned Parenthood said in a statement that the gender-affirming care ban was “one of the most extreme attacks on transgender healthcare we’ve seen in America.”
“Gender-affirming care is time-sensitive and saves lives,” said Rebecca Gibron, CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, which has locations in Hawaii, Indiana and Kentucky. “Patients, families, and health care providers — and no one else — should make decisions based on current medical best practice about what care is in the best interest of transgender youth.”
The bill to ban gender-affirming care was pushed by the Idaho Center for Family Policy, a religious lobbying group that also advocates for anti-abortion legislation. Blaine Conzatti, the group’s president, said in a release that the group was pleased that the vast majority of state representatives voted for the bill.
“These kids need real help, not unnecessary medical procedures that lead to lifelong harm,” Conzati said.
The bill now goes to the Senate, where a similar ban on gender-affirming care lapsed last year. At the time, Senate Republicans in Idaho issued a statement saying they strongly opposed gender-affirming surgery on children, but were concerned that the bill would affect medically necessary care for non-transgender children and that they did not want to interfere with parents’ authority to make medical decisions.
Several other anti-LGBTQ bills are also still moving through the legislature. One approach is to restrict transgender children’s use of school restrooms, prohibiting them from using changing rooms, changing facilities or bathrooms that match their gender. Another bill restricts sex education in elementary schools and prohibits schools from discussing human sexuality, gender identity or sexual orientation until fifth grade. A bill unveiled Monday could require schools to notify parents of changes in a student’s “mental, emotional or physical health or well-being” — possibly including if a student discloses they are gay or transgender.
Parents can sue libraries and public schools for $10,000 if they provide their children with anything deemed “harmful to minors” under another bill. The definition of “harmful to minors” includes a long list of graphic behaviors and any effect that may cause “substantial arousal” to people under the age of 18. It included the exclusion of things of serious artistic, scientific, political or literary value to youth, but allowed decisions to be made according to “the prevailing standards of the adult community.”
Many of the bills mirror language used in so-called “don’t speak gay” legislation introduced in more than a dozen states last year, seeking to ban schools from using lessons, books or discussions that touch on gender identity or sexual orientation. (AP)
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)