On Thursday, March 10, organizers and protestors from LGBTQ and allied groups around South Carolina came together to protest a slew of anti-LGBTQ legislation set for debate in upcoming meetings of the South Carolina House.
The list of bills reads like a list of directives put forth by a totalitarian regime hell-bent on a societal cleansing:
H.4608/S.531 would restrict transgender students from participating in school sports.
S.811 is a safeguard measure to protect potential methods of “conversion therapy” (a wholly unsuccessful “procedure” dismissed by all responsible and educated practitioners in the field of mental health) which seeks to modify an individual’s LGBTQ+ sexual orientation or gender identity to strictly cisgender and heterosexual.
H.4776, would allow medical providers, healthcare workers and just about anybody carte blanche to discriminate. Receptionists, nurses, doctors, pharmacists, counselors, insurance companies, and others can cite their personal beliefs to justify turning away or denying service to LGBTQ+ people, women, people of minority faiths, people of color, and more.
Then there’s the state’s multiple versions’ of its own “Don’t Say Gay” bills: H. 4325, H. 4343, H. 4605, H. 4392, and H. 4799, are efforts to censor curriculum in schools related to LGBTQ+ identity and racial justice among other areas. Some bills completely prohibit discussion of the LGBTQ community altogether.
As of March 15, the South Carolina Senate Education Subcommittee continued its hearing on S.531, the bill that would prohibit transgender students (including those in middle, high school, and college) from participating in student sports. Even after powerful testimony from community members opposing the bill, the subcommittee voted 3-1 to advance S.531 to the full committee with a favorable ruling.
This was the second subcommittee hearing on S.531, following the first in May of 2021 when no action was taken. A companion bill, H.4608, was heard in a House subcommittee on Thursday, March 10, but no action was taken.
Powerful testimony was heard from supporters of transgender equality from all walks of life – including parents, medical providers, mental health experts from The Trevor Project, and advocates.
SC United for Justice & Equality, a coalition of more than 30 organizations committed to LGBTQ equality in SC, mobilized against the bill and spoke out against its advancement.
Ivy Hill, a leader of the SC United for Justice & Equality coalition who also serves as Executive Director of Gender Benders and Community Health Program Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, said after the hearing:
“Let’s be clear about what happened … a bill that lawmakers know is unnecessary was advanced to full committee to score political points with anti-transgender forces around a manufactured issue. Transgender youth have played sports consistent with their gender identity for a long time, and the South Carolina High School League already has a reasonable policy in place to protect transgender youth while ensuring a level playing field and a safe, friendly environment.
“S.531 will not solve any real problems, but it will create – and is already creating – a flood of them,” Hill continued. “New research has illustrated the extreme damage that bills like this have on the mental health of transgender youth, with 85 percent of trans or non-binary youth saying anti-transgender bills negatively impact their mental health. That’s why I want transgender and queer youth across South Carolina to know that we love them, we support them, and we will never stop fighting alongside them for dignity, respect, and inclusion here in South Carolina”