BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – As the Louisiana legislature amps up its work, advocates took to the steps to protest a set of anti-LGBTQ bills. Dozens of LGBTQ-rights activists marched from the state Capitol to the governor’s mansion to protest bills that aim to limit healthcare and classroom discussions for members of their community.

HB463 looks to prevent youth from getting gender-affirming care. Trans advocates said getting this kind of medical care is critical for an already at-risk population.

“It is lifesaving because so many trans youth face discrimination or hatred or misunderstanding, and they need to be able to have an affirming environment,” said Peyton Rose Michelle, executive director of Louisiana Trans Advocates.

Louisiana just last year passed a bill that bans transgender youth from playing on sports teams that do not align with their birth sex. 

HB466 is a bill similar to the Don’t Say Gay bill in Florida that is being brought for the second time. It would prohibit teachers from talking about sexual orientation or gender identity in the classroom that isn’t strictly related to an approved curriculum, which includes talking about their own identity.

“The removal of those two things, gender identification information, as well as sexual orientation from health education doesn’t make any sense to me,” said Pearl Ricks with Reproductive Justice Action Collective. “It creates a very porous and a very dangerous environment for both the people who are learning and those who are educating.”

HB81 also prohibits teachers from using a student’s preferred pronouns if they do not match the sex on their birth certificate. If a student wanted to go by a different name in school they would have to get written permission, which advocates believe could force children to out their identity to their parents. 

“I believe it is extremely important that we tell young people from the time they are learning from us all the way until they are past being an adult that they’re their own person,” Ricks said. “They control their own lives, they control their own narratives and it is important that we trust them to know who they are.”

Advocates also showed their resistance to the proposed bills that would limit books for children in public libraries that advocacy groups say unfairly target books with LGBTQ themes.

While the advocates called for the bills to be stopped during the session, they also called on Gov. John Bel Edwards to veto any that should pass.

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