Gov. Cox signs bills to deny youth transgender health care and $42 million in school voucher funds

Governor Spencer Cox signed two hotly debated bills into law on Saturday: 1 Creates the largest school voucher program in state historyAnd it will be another Most prohibits gender-affirming health care For transgender youth.

The controversial steps, drawn Objection And they are the first two bills Cox has signed this legislative session since debate began, his office said.

In signing the SB16 ban into law, Cox acknowledged it raised a “horribly divisive issue” but said “professionals, states and countries around the world are ending these permanent and life-changing treatments” pending new research. He also pledged to push for more resources for organizations that support transgender youth.

In a statement released Saturday, “While we understand that our words will be of little comfort to those who disagree with us, we sincerely hope that we will be more loving and respectful as we work to better understand our transgender families.” The science behind these procedures and the results.

He also said HB215, which would allocate $42 million in taxpayer funds to families to pay for private schools, “strikes a fine balance.” The program offers Utah parents “more options to meet the needs of their families,” he said.

Cox praised “teachers and school leaders who helped pass additional accountability measures not included in the original bill” and thanked lawmakers for the teacher pay raises included in it.

Here’s what the steps do.

Transgender treatment and procedures

SB16 Sponsored by Sen. Mike Kennedy, R-Alpine, it would bar doctors from prescribing hormone therapy to minors diagnosed with “gender disorder,” a mental disorder caused by conflict between gender identity and sex. They are assigned at birth.

When the ban goes into effect, the bill says the Utah Department of Health and Human Services will look at data on the use of those medical treatments and make recommendations for policy changes. He did not set a deadline for the analysis to be completed.

The Utah Senate approved the bill on Friday by a 20-8 vote. The bill has more than two-thirds support in both the House and Senate, meaning any veto could be overridden by lawmakers.

Cox last year vetoed legislation that would have barred transgender girls from participating in school sports that match their gender identity. At that time, Cox wrote about passion Four page letter to legislators Explaining the veto, he wrote that out of 75,000 student-athletes in Utah, only four transgender children played high school sports.

Cox wrote in the letter, “So much fear and anger has not happened to a few.” “I don’t understand what they are going through or why they feel the way they do. But I want them to live. And all the research shows that even a little acceptance and connection can significantly reduce suicidality.

Legislation passed last year initially created a commission to review whether a transgender athlete could participate in school sports. On the last day of the session, it was amended to bar transgender women from women’s sports, and Cox’s veto was later overturned by the Utah Legislature. Special session at the end of March. This year’s bill was signed just nine days into the legislative session.

The ban on hormone treatments for transgender youth only applies to new patients, and it took effect immediately when Cox signed the bill.

School vouchers

HB215 was sponsored by Rep. Candice Pierucci, R-HerrimanHe allocated $42 million in taxpayer funds to send students to private schools. The bill includes It will raise $6,000 in salaries and benefits for teachers in the district As a compromise, so teachers in public schools will see bigger paychecks starting this fall.

Vouchers can be referred to as tax credits, tax rebates, education savings accounts, scholarship funds, or, as in this proposal, scholarships. They’re all the same concept — and they work by taking money collected from taxpayers and putting it into a fund for vouchers.

That money is given to individual students to cover all or part of their tuition at a private school. This creates a financial crisis for public schools, because if children leave public schools for private schools, public schools are less funded.

Last year, Cox The same bill was opposed Now with reservations that were not fully defined in the previous version.

“Our top priority this session is significant increases in teacher compensation and education funding,” Cox said in a statement. “…school choice works best when we provide adequate funding for public education and remove unnecessary regulations that burden our public schools and make it difficult for them to succeed.”

The controversial proposal has been moved forward with remarkable speed – and despite the outcry and opposition from teachers. And almost every educational organization in Utah. In a statement Thursday, the Utah Education Association pledged to explore “all options to repeal this harmful law that threatens the future of public education.”

The Legislature will have a chance to change or reconsider the bill in next year’s session, which would come before the scholarships start in 2024, but teacher pay raises will come in 2023.

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