Gov. Tony Evers
Press Release

Gov. Evers Keeps Promise to Protect LGBTQ Youth, Vetoes Anti-LGBTQ Bill Targeting Trans and Gender Nonconforming Kids


By - Apr 2nd, 2024 09:34 am

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today, joined by LGBTQ youth, families, advocates, elected officials, and community members, vetoed Assembly Bill (AB) 377, a bill passed by Republican members of the Wisconsin State Legislature targeting transgender and gender nonconforming youth and banning them from participating on school athletic teams that align with their gender identity. The governor has repeatedly pledged to veto the bill as well as any other anti-LGBTQ legislation sent to his desk.

“This type of legislation, and the harmful rhetoric beget by pursuing it, harms LGBTQ Wisconsinites’ and kids’ mental health, emboldens anti-LGBTQ harassment, bullying, and violence, and threatens the safety and dignity of LGBTQ Wisconsinites, especially our LGBTQ kids,” Gov. Evers said in his veto message. “I will veto any bill that makes Wisconsin a less safe, less inclusive, and less welcoming place for LGBTQ people and kids, and I will continue to keep my promise of using every power available to me to defend them, protect their rights, and keep them safe.

“States across this country may give way to radical policies targeting LGBTQ individuals and families and threatening LGBTQ folks’ everyday lives and their ability to be safe, valued, supported, and welcome being who they are. As long as I am the governor of this great state, Wisconsin will not be among them.

“We expect our kids to treat each other with kindness, respect, empathy, and compassion, and we should be able to expect adults to lead by example,” said Gov. Evers. “I urge the Republican majority to do so while fully considering the harmful consequences its efforts and actions have on our kids prior to introducing similar legislation in the future.”

Wisconsin was the first state in the nation to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment and housing, and Gov. Evers has been committed to continuing the state’s long and proud tradition of advancing initiatives to protect, support, and celebrate LGBTQ kids and the LGBTQ community. The governor’s first action after being sworn into office was signing Executive Order #1, which prohibited discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, as well as other classes such as age, race, religion, color, disability, military or veteran status, national origin, etc., in state employment, public services, state contracts, and grants. Executive Order #1 also directed state agencies to develop policies to ensure all people are afforded equal opportunity, along with other measures to prohibit discrimination and harassment.

Gov. Evers has been a consistent and vocal champion for the LGBTQ community during his time as governor. Over the last five years, the governor has spoken out against and pledged to veto numerous bills targeting LGBTQ Wisconsinites over the last five years, including bills discriminating against transgender kids and athletes similar to AB 377 and bills restricting education around LGBTQ issues and history in schools. Last December, Gov. Evers vetoed another anti-LGBTQ bill passed by Republican lawmakers that would have banned gender-affirming care for minor patients with gender dysphoria. Gender-affirming care is recognized by most major medical associations as the evidence-based treatment for transgender and gender nonconforming youth with gender dysphoria. The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry have all stated that gender-affirming care saves lives.

Additionally, in June 2019, for the first time in state history, Gov. Evers signed Executive Order #29 to raise the Rainbow Pride Flag over the East Wing of the State Capitol building and throughout the state of Wisconsin in recognition of Pride Month and to send a clear and unequivocal message that Wisconsin is a welcoming and inclusive place for all. Since then, the Rainbow Pride Flag has flown over the Capitol each year for the month of June until June of 2022, when Gov. Evers raised the Progress Pride Flag over the State Capitol for the first time.

During the Pride Month celebration in June 2021, Gov. Evers signed Executive Order #121 and directed Evers Administration cabinet agencies to use gender-neutral language whenever practicable in external documents. Gov. Evers also signed Executive Order #122 requiring the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Wisconsin Department of Corrections, and the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families to take appropriate steps to expressly disallow payment of state and federal funds allocated by their respective agencies for conversion therapy for minors. Numerous medical associations and professional organizations oppose the practice of conversion therapy, and according to research conducted by the Family Acceptance Project, adolescent conversion efforts contribute to higher risks of depression and suicide for LGBTQ youth. Gov. Evers also used his constitutional veto authority during the 2023-25 biennial budget process to protect access to gender-affirming care for Wisconsinites, blocking a Republican-backed provision to prevent the state’s Medicaid program from covering gender-affirming care.

The governor’s veto message for AB 377 is available here.

An online version of this release is available here.

NOTE: This press release was submitted to Urban Milwaukee and was not written by an Urban Milwaukee writer. It has not been verified for its accuracy or completeness.

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