SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Jan. 28, 2023 (Gephardt Daily) — Gov. Spencer Cox has signed two bills into law, one barring transgender medical treatment and procedures to juveniles, and one funding a raise for teachers and optional education vouchers for parents seeking options including private schools.
SB16, which has stirred far more controversy, bans surgeries for transgender juveniles.
On Friday, The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), and LGBTQ+ support organization, rebuked Utah Legislature for advancing the bill and urged Cox to use his power to veto.
Cathryn Oakley, HRC’s State Legislative director and senior counsel released the following statement:
“Today, Utah legislators capitulated to extremism and fear-mongering, and by doing so, shamelessly put the lives and well-being of young Utahns at risk — young transgender folks who are simply trying to navigate life as their authentic selves.
“Every parent wants and deserves access to the highest quality health care for our kids. This discriminatory legislation bans care that is age-appropriate and supported by every major medical association, representing more than 1.3 million doctors.
“Medical decisions are best left to medical experts and parents or guardians, not politicians without an ounce of medical training acting as if they know how to raise and support our children better than we do.
“Last year, Governor Cox vetoed anti-transgender legislation and expressed compassion for young transgender Utahns, saying, ‘I always try to err on the side of kindness, mercy and compassion,’ and ‘Rarely has so much fear and anger been directed at so few. I don’t understand what they are going through or why they feel the way they do. But I want them to live.'”
Cox did sign the bill into law, his office revealed in a Saturday morning news release.
“Legislation that impacts our most vulnerable youth requires careful consideration and deliberation,” Cox said in the prepared statement released Saturday.
“While not a perfect bill, we are grateful for Sen. Kennedy’s more nuanced and thoughtful approach to this terribly divisive issue. More and more experts, states and countries around the world are pausing these permanent and life-altering treatments for new patients until more and better research can help determine the long-term consequences.
“We will continue to push the Legislature for additional resources to organizations that work to help this important Utah community. While we understand 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 procedures.”
Teachers’ pay, voucher bill
HB215 approved a $6,000 salary and benefits raise for teachers across the state, contingent on the creation of a school vouchers.
Cox’s statement on HB215 follows:
“This bill strikes a good balance. More than 90% of parents support Utah schools and so do we. Our top priority this session has been a significant increase in teacher compensation and education funding. We commend the Legislature for supporting our teacher pay proposal which will help address the state’s teacher shortage and give Utah teachers the much-needed pay raise they deserve.
“We also appreciate that HB 215 gives Utah parents additional options to meet the needs of their families. School choice works best when we adequately fund public education and we remove unnecessary regulations that burden our public schools and make it difficult for them to succeed. We are especially appreciative of our teachers and education leaders who helped push for more accountability measures which were not included in the original bill.”