Jeff Graham, Executive Director of Georgia Equality / Official photo

Anti-LGBTQ Bills Pass and Stall in Georgia Senate

In the Georgia Senate, one anti-LGBTQ bill was passed while another stalled.

On March 6, SB 140 passed the Georgia Senate by a vote of 33 to 22, with all Republicans backing the measure. The bill bars some kinds of gender-affirming care for minors, including most gender-affirming surgeries and hormone replacement therapies. However, it still allows doctors to prescribe puberty blockers.

The bill advances to the House for more debate.

“We are saddened by the Senate passage of SB 140 tonight,” Jeff Graham, the executive director of Georgia Equality, said in a statement. “Parents, working with their medical teams and adhering to standards of care, should be able to make decisions regarding their child’s healthcare. This bill sets a dangerous precedent when legislators second guess those standards of care. And it is nothing short of extremist government overreach.”

“I am grateful for all of the parents, medical providers, and supporters of transgender youth who showed up at the Capitol today, and for the thousands of Georgians from throughout the state who took action over the last two weeks to urge their Senators to oppose this bill,” he continued. “Your efforts did make a difference by delaying the vote as long as it did. In the coming days we will assess our next steps as the bill now heads to the House of Representatives.”

SB 88, a bill similar to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, stalled in the Georgia Senate, lowering the odds that it will become law.

SB 88, the “Parents and Children Protection Act of 2023,” failed to cross over from one house to the other on Crossover Day after the Senate Education and Youth Committee voted to table the measure.

The original bill would’ve aimed to regulate classroom discussions about gender identity, banning teachers from discussing gender identity “other than the child’s biological sex” without obtaining parental consent. The amended version, however, mandated that school boards have policies dictating how parents were informed of and involved in discussions of gender identity. It would have also mandated that schools use a child’s legal name on records. SB 88 would have applied to both public and private schools as well as private camps.

“In a surprising victory, the Senate Education Committee voted today to table SB 88, the expansive school censorship bill,” Georgia Equality wrote on Facebook. “This means that the bill is effectively dead for this session … Georgia Equality will continue to closely monitor all anti-LGBTQ legislation at the State Capitol, but, for now, we’re celebrating the small wins while we can!”

The bill was authored by Carden Summers from Cordele, who also sponsored SB 140. He said the intent of the bill was to ensure parents were included in gender identity conversations and that it would only apply to those in charge of children younger than consenting age.

All of the bill’s co-authors were Republican men: Colton Moore from Trenton, Brandon Beach from Alpharetta, Clint Dixon from Buford, Randy Robertson from Cataula, John Albers from Roswell, Shawn Still from Norcross, Lee Anderson from Grovetown, Matt Brass from Newnan, Chuck Payne from Dalton, and Marty Harbin from Tyrone.

SB 88 is one of more than 100 anti-LGBTQ bills that have been filed this year nationwide and five in Georgia alone, along with SB 140 and others like HB 653 and SB 141, which prohibit health care providers from performing gender affirming surgeries and other treatments on minors, and the “Georgia Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

At the same time SB 88 stalled, a bill in Florida was introduced mandating state intervention in cases of transgender minors receiving gender-affirming care. SB 254 includes provisions for courts exercising temporary emergency jurisdiction over a child who “is at risk of or is being subjected to” gender-affirming care; includes granting of warrants for physical custody over children “likely to imminently” receive gender affirming care; and imposing felony penalties on parents or health care providers providing gender affirming care to minors.