The scary reality of NC Senate bill 49


Photos by Hannah Suehle

The ‘Parents’ Bill of Rights’ is passing through the North Carolina Congress right now. If it is passed, it would be detrimental to transgender students all across the state.

Senate Bill 49, nicknamed the “Parents’ Bill of Rights” was passed on February 7, 2023. The bill, which was introduced to the Senate on January 31, lays out rules for teachers and healthcare professionals that substantially limit how they can aid trans youth. It is also expected to pass the House, as House Bill 755 passed last year and had similar parts. 

“The governing body of a public school unit shall adopt procedures to notify a parent… Prior to any changes in the name or pronoun used for a student in school 35 records or by school personnel, notice to the parent of the change.” This is the primary controversial point of SB49 because it could become really dangerous for students who aren’t ready to come out to their parents. Studies show that students are more likely to explore using a different name and/or pronouns at school before coming out to parents. If this bill passes, then schools can no longer be perceived as the safe place that it has been for many people for years. 

The main reason why republican senators are promoting it as “good” is because they claim that it “garners more communication between children and their parents.” This isn’t true in every case. Not every child feels automatically safe to come out to their parents when they discover their trans identity, if ever. By forcing them to come out to their parents, they may feel less comfortable coming out to anyone period. 

Trans children should be able to choose when and how they come out. It is a shared experience of many transgender people of experimenting with names and pronouns at school with friends and/or teachers before coming out to a parent, sometimes even waiting years before telling parents, for the sake of ‘feeling ready’ or ‘being sure.’ Transgender students being forcibly outed to parents is not only uncomfortable for those students, but it could also be dangerous. If a student does not want to come out to a parent, it could be for safety reasons. If a student is from an unsafe home, forcing them out of the closet could cause verbal or physical abuse initiated towards them from unaccepting parents. Psychologists consulted on the topic say that the bill’s passing is likely to cause many mental health problems to students who previously considered schools safe places and may even cause some to run away from home. 

Another piece of the legislature details that “[i]nstruction on gender identity, sexual activity, or sexuality shall not be included in the curriculum provided in grades kindergarten through fourth grade…but does not include responses to student-initiated questions.” You would be hard-pressed to find anyone teaching students any of those topics in the first place, and teaching young students about gender identity isn’t a bad thing. Children as young as five can understand and comprehend if they wish to socially transition. But, no one’s teaching children any of these topics. These laws only demonstrate that these politicians wish to discriminate against trans students and hide away things like “gender identity” as if it’s a bad word. You aren’t allowed to teach elementary schoolers what sexuality is, but kids who consume nearly any form of media will see heterosexual relationships everywhere. Generally, people think that seeing non-heterosexual relationships will “turn kids gay”, but any gay person was constantly exposed to straight relationships as a child, and they still “turned out” gay. It seems less like these people want to hide away discussions of relationships but instead hide away LGBTQ+ topics.  

The other bill that concerns many in the state regards healthcare. It was introduced to the NC House of Representatives on February 4. The bill, currently under the working title of House Bill 43, says that healthcare services cannot provide body-altering surgeries to minors, as well as providing hormone therapy such as hormone replacement and puberty blockers to minors, under penalty of fines. Unlike the previous bill, this one entirely bans all gender-affirming healthcare instead of just parental consent. It will prevent minors from receiving surgeries such as mastectomies, or “top surgery”, as well as any genital-altering surgeries. Realistically, almost no one is getting these surgeries under the age of 18 in the first place. Doctors will not perform any genital surgery until you’ve been on hormone replacement therapy for at least 2 years, as well as not until after anything’s finished changing through puberty. It also blocks hormone blockers, which stop puberty from happening in a child’s body. Puberty blockers are used by people contemplating gender identity who wish to pause puberty until after gender identity is decided. They can be stopped at any time and as soon as they are stopped, puberty will begin again. Hormone replacement therapy also goes hand in hand with puberty blockers. Generally, a person will take hormone blockers for a short while, and then begin taking supplements of either testosterone or estrogen in order to experience something dubbed a “second puberty”, where one’s body goes through changes emulating the changes that would occur in the puberty of someone of the opposite sex.  Banning both means that any gender-affirming healthcare would be virtually impossible until age 18. 

Banning gender-affirming healthcare and forcibly outing students will be detrimental to trans students’ mental health. Suicide is the leading cause of death in LGBTQ students, but gender-affirming healthcare and social acceptance have been shown to minimize that significantly, to that of their cisgender peers. This isn’t the only anti-trans legislature in the nation. It’s one of over 200 bills being thrown around in state legislature across the culture. The country is becoming increasingly hostile towards trans members of the population, in the legislature, and in society. Remember, trans people aren’t inherently dangerous. Who is dangerous is the legislators demonizing and erasing trans people.