Transgender activists occupied state capitol buildings across the country this week to protest against laws imposing restrictions on child sex reassignment procedures and teaching gender identity in the classroom.
The protests took place the same week that police identified a transgender person as the gunman responsible for the killing of six people, including three 9-year-old children, in Monday’s shooting at a private Christian school in Nashville .
A crowd of LGBTQ activists marched on the Florida Capitol on Friday after the state’s Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed legislation that would restrict the way teachers and students can use preferred pronouns in schools. The legislation also strengthens the ability of concerned parents, students and others to raise objections to school library materials and books.
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The measure was passed on International Transgender Day of Visibility, when several transgender marches were held across the country. Students packed the Florida Capitol and chanted in protest, chanting “This is what democracy looks like” and calling for schools to be taken over.
Two days earlier, Kentucky state police confirmed that 19 people were arrested at the Capitol as large crowds gathered to protest Republican lawmakers overriding Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto of laws prohibiting puberty blockers, hormones and Ban sex reassignment surgery for children under the age of 18.
The bill also bans classes on gender identity and sexual orientation, requires transgender students to use the toilet of their biological sex, and prevents school districts from requiring teachers to use a student’s pronouns if they don’t match their gender at birth to match.
At the same time, hundreds of protesters descended on the Missouri Capitol on Wednesday after the Republican-led state Senate passed legislation banning transgender youth under the age of 18 from receiving gender-affirming health care such as puberty blockers and hormone treatments. The state Senate also passed legislation barring transgender students from participating in sports teams that conform to their gender identity.
“We certainly show ourselves in love and community today, but we also show ourselves in righteous anger and anger,” Katy Erker-Lynch, executive director of PROMO, an LGBTQ public policy and advocacy organization, said at the protest.
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Two days earlier in Texas, throngs of trans activists stormed the Capitol as the state house debated a similar bill banning child sex reassignment procedures. The protesters chanted “Protect trans children” and lay down on the ground to obstruct those trying to pass.
The Texas protest took place on the same day as the Nashville shooting at the Covenant School. Police say the shooter was Audrey Hale, a 28-year-old transgender person who was a former Christian private school student. Hale, who was killed after shooting at responding officers, left a manifesto that did not rule out gender identity may have been a motivation, according to authorities.
Dozens of protesters poured into the Tennessee Capitol on Thursday, urging lawmakers to take action against gun violence as they appeared to mourn Hale’s death.
“Every death is a tragedy, all of you. Seven lives,” a protester was heard saying in footage posted to social media.
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Seven people were killed in the shooting, including Hale.
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