Open Letter to the Alabama House of Representatives

To the members of the Alabama House of Representatives,

We, the University of Alabama School of Law OutLaw Chapter along with its allies in the law school community, urge you to oppose HB266 when it comes before you. The bill is an egregious example of government overreach. It infringes on the relationships between doctors and patients and the relationships between parents and their children. Doctors, when under threat of felony charges, cannot provide the care that their patients need, and parents who seek care for their children have their choices limited by the state of Alabama. The state cannot and should not interfere with these most vital relationships.

If the Legislature votes to take control over children’s bodies over the objection of parents and doctors, it will subject the state and its taxpayers to yet another round of costly litigation to defend its decision, as well as the loss of human capital as talented workers conclude Alabama is not right for them and their families. On the other hand, the cost of voting down this bill is nothing. Rather than forcing children to endure lawsuits over their right to healthcare or arresting the doctors that provide it, children could instead continue to receive life-sustaining care.1 Passing this bill will not discourage the existence of transgender youth in Alabama; it will only ensure that those individuals suffer unnecessary pain as they wait to receive this care as adults.

The evidence against this bill is clear. Study after study has shown time and again that transgender individuals who have access to gender-affirming care are far less likely to die by suicide, engage in self-harm, and endure the psychological trauma that comes with gender dysphoria.2 If the Sponsors of this bill are genuine in their stated intentions to protect the youth of Alabama, there is only one way to stay true to those objectives: oppose this bill fully and in earnest.

Further, the provision of this bill that requires mandatory disclosure by professionals when a child comes out to them is heartless. Many LGBTQ+ children do not have an affirming environment at home. Being outed can mean rejection by their parents or guardians, including horrendous pseudo-scientific “therapy,” social castigation, and outright parental eviction and disownment. Where home environments are often unsafe schools can be places where LGBTQ+ students can be free to be themselves. This provision specifically strips this shred of hope from them, and it will likely lead to more violence against trans children. Alabamians reject the notion of the state telling them how to raise and educate their children and how to express their faith. It should not dictate parents’ decisions about their children’s medical care.

We note, also, that a companion bill, SB184, has passed out of the Senate. We understand that this also may come before you, regardless of how you vote on HB266. When it does, we ask that you remember the testimony of trans kids, their parents, and their healthcare providers.

The sponsors of this bill ask us to call it the “Alabama Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act.” In reality, it accomplishes none of those things. To the contrary, it is a flagrant attempt by the legislature to degrade the trans community, and it attacks the truly most vulnerable among it: children. Further, this proffered bill and approach offer anything but compassion to children. Where healthcare providers seek to affirm kids’ identities, this bill seeks to strip away who they are. Where parents seek to understand and help their children in a loving and nurturing way, this bill attempts to subvert this support, instead mandating that parents hate who their kids are or face criminal prosecution. And lastly, where many seek to protect kids from the physical abuse, chastisement, and ridicule that they face on a daily basis, this bill will proliferate such bigotry. This time, the bully’s vitriol does not hail from the playground, but from the Hill.

The right to self-determination in healthcare for all Alabama citizens, free from the interference of the state, is one that must be protected by this Legislature. We strongly urge you to reject measures that harm Alabama children and families. Our executive board’s contact information is included here if our chapter can be of use as you consider this bill.

Sincerely,

OutLaw

University of Alabama School of Law

President: Cole Adams, cole.adams@law.ua.edu

Vice President: Trey Edwards, trey.edwards@law.ua.edu Secretary: Allison Koszyk, alli.koszyk@law.ua.edu Treasurer: Makenzie Moore, makenzie.moore@law.ua.edu

Social Media Chair: Spencer Bowley, spencer.bowley@law.ua.edu

Faculty Advisor: Amy Kimpel, Assistant Professor of Clinical Legal Instruction

Members: Rebekah Bisson Brant Cook Haley Czarnek Lindsey Deal Halle Diaz Cameron Dobbs Makenna Krist Rubayet Lasker Laura Kate Smith Matthew Spencer Amanda West Erica Webb Kelsey Yates

 

Signed in Solidarity,

 

Alabama Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law Review, University of Alabama School of Law

Katrina Smith, Editor in Chief

 

American Constitution Society, University of Alabama School of Law Chapter

Brikk Bralley, President

Shelby Taylor Kostonlni, Vice President Matthew Spencer

 

Black Law Students Association, University of Alabama School of Law Chapter

Brenita Softley, President

Kyra Perkins, Second Vice President

Jaleel Washington, Community Service Chair

 

Criminal Law Society, University of Alabama School of Law Chapter

Erica Webb, President

Adelaide Beckman, Vice President Katrina Smith, Secretary

Aryne Hudson, Treasurer

Courtney Garrett: Class Representative

 

Immigration Detention Defense Board, University of Alabama School of Law

Katrina Smith, Administrative Director

 

Jewish Law Student Association, University of Alabama School of Law Chapter

Marcus Armband, President

 

National Lawyers’ Guild, University of Alabama School of Law Chapter

Jordan Holman, Director of Communications Amethyst Muncy, Director of Events Meghan McLeroy, Director of Relations Karli Smith, Class Representative

 

Sports and Entertainment Law Society, University of Alabama School of Law Chapter

Bella Thoren, President

 

Student Animal Legal Defense Fund

Ryne Smith, President

Julie Newton, Vice President Marcus Armband, Secretary

 

Signed in Solidarity in Their Personal Capacities,

 

Yonathan Arbel

Associate Professor of Law University of Alabama School of Law

 

Jenny Carroll

Wiggins, Childs, Quinn & Pantazis Professor of Law University of Alabama School of Law

 

Courtney K. Cross

Associate Professor of Clinical Instruction and Director of the Domestic Violence Law Clinic University of Alabama School of Law

 

Richard Delgado

John. J. Sparkman Chair of Law University of Alabama School of Law

 

Susan Donovan

Director of the Mediation Law Clinic University of Alabama School of Law

 

Heather Elliot

Alumni, Class of ’36 Professor of Law University of Alabama School of Law

 

Bryan K. Fair

Thomas E. Skinner Professor of Law University of Alabama School of Law

 

Cameron Fogle

Associate Professor of Legal Writing University of Alabama School of Law

 

Russell M. Gold

Associate Professor of Law University of Alabama School of Law

 

Glory McLaughlin

Assistant Dean for Public Interest Law University of Alabama School of Law

 

Anil A. Mujumdar

Assistant Professor of Law in Residence and Director of Diversity and Inclusion University of Alabama School of Law

 

Shalini Bhargava Ray Associate Professor

University of Alabama School of Law

 

Daiquri J. Steele

Assistant Professor of Law

University of Alabama School of Law

 

Jean Stefancic

Professor and Clement Research Affiliate University of Alabama School of Law

 

Joyce White Vance

Distinguished Professor of the Practice of Law University of Alabama School of Law

 

Fredrick E. Vars

Ira Drayton Pruitt Sr. Professor of Law University of Alabama School of Law

 

Megan H. Walsh

Associate Dean, Career Services Office University of Alabama School of Law

 

1 See HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN, Alabama Trans Teen Wouldn’t be Where He is Today without Access to Medical Care, YouTube Video (uploaded April 26, 2021, accessed March 8, 2022) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzyv84AkAkU; David Fuller, Testimony to Alabama Lawmakers, Human Rights Campaign, Alabama Dad Testifies Against Anti-Trans Sports Bill, YouTube Video (uploaded March 10, 2021, accessed March 8, 2022) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymt-cwBSmJo.

2 See THE NATIONAL CHILD TRAUMATIC STRESS NETWORK, Suicide, Self-Harm, and LGBTQ Youth: Tips for Therapists (accessed March 8, 2022) https://www.asapnctsn.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Tip-sheet-for- therapists-LGBTQ-teens_1.21.20.pdf.