Utah bans gender-affirming care for transgender youth : NPR

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Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed legislation on Saturday that prohibits young people from receiving gender-affirming health care.

Rick Bowmer/AP

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Rick Bowmer/AP

Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed legislation on Saturday that prohibits young people from receiving gender-affirming health care.

Rick Bowmer/AP

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s Republican governor on Saturday signed bills that would bar young people from receiving gender-affirming health care and allow families to receive scholarships to pay for out-of-state education. public school system, both measures that are part of larger movements across the country.

Governor Spencer Cox, who had not taken a public position on the transgender care measure, signed it a day after the Legislature sent it to his desk. The Utah measure prohibits transgender surgery for youth and does not allow hormone treatments for minors who have not yet been diagnosed with gender dysphoria. The Republican-dominated state Legislature prioritized the ban and considered the first draft of the measure less than 10 days ago, two days after the Legislature opened this year’s session on March 17. ‘ January.

Cox’s endorsement of the bill comes as lawmakers in at least 18 states consider similar bills targeting health care for transgender youth.

Cox explained in a statement that his decision was based on his belief that it was prudent to withhold “these permanent and life-changing treatments for new patients until further and better research can help determine the consequences in -length.”

“While we understand that our words will be of little comfort to those who disagree with us, we sincerely hope that we can treat our transgender families with more love and respect as we work to better understand the science and consequences behind these the procedures,” he said. .

Among the critics is the ACLU of Utah, which on Friday urged Cox to veto the bill.

In its letter to Cox, the civil rights organization said it is deeply concerned about “the harmful and potentially catastrophic effects this law will have on people’s lives and medical care and the grave violation of people’s constitutional rights that it will cause.

“By cutting medical treatment supported by every major medical association in the United States, the bill compromises the health and well-being of adolescents with gender dysphoria. It ties the hands of doctors and -parents by restricting access to the only evidence-based treatment available for this serious medical condition and impairing their ability to fulfill their professional obligations,” the letter said.

The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Mike Kennedy, a Republican family physician said government oversight is necessary for vital health care policy related to gender and youth.

Cox also signed another measure that would give students school choice-style scholarships to attend schools outside the public education system. The bill also increased teacher pay and benefits in an effort to ease the state’s teacher shortage.

At least a dozen other states are considering similar legislation in what has emerged as a landmark year for school choice battles. The debates have galvanized teachers’ unions and rekindled concerns about efforts to gradually privatize public education. If enacted, they could transform the nature of state government’s relationship with the education system and deepen the contrasts between what school looks like in many red versus blue states.

Utah’s measure allocates $42 million in taxpayer funds to pay for scholarships so students can attend private schools. About 5,000 students receive scholarships of $8,000, which is roughly double the state’s “weighted student unit” funding that tracks students in their schools. In an attempt to calm strong opposition from the state teachers union, the bill also includes $6,000 in salary and benefits for Utah teachers.

Cox’s statement explaining his decision focused mainly on the increase in teacher pay while portraying the measure as “striking a fine balance.”

“School choice works best when we adequately fund public education and remove unnecessary regulations that burden our public schools and make it difficult for them to succeed,” Cox said.

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