Alabama committee advances transgender bathroom, divisive concepts bills

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — With three days left in the legislative session, an Alabama Senate committee advanced a bill banning the teaching of divisive concepts in public schools, and another bill requiring public school students use bathrooms aligned with their biological sex.

Sen. Malika Sanders-Fortier, D-Selma, says she thinks the divisive concepts bill would have a chilling effect on teaching important parts of history.

“Passing it could be driven by fear in our classrooms, so people just won’t touch it. They won’t talk about civil rights. They won’t talk about how we actually came together and changed,” Sanders-Fortier said.

But Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Montgomery, says he’s seen first-hand his own children come home from school feeling belittled because of topics in the classroom.

“When they get to the point they’re pushing them so hard that they come home just distraught, that’s too far. That is happening in our schools, that has happened to my children,” Chambliss said.

The committee passed that bill by a vote of 9-2. The committee also passed a bill barring transgender students from using public school bathrooms and lockerrooms matching their gender identity.

One parent with a transgender child testified, saying the bill would be difficult to enforce and discriminatory to students like her son.

“There’s nothing good that comes from these bills other than the political wins,” Vanessa Tate Finney said. “He is disheartened and disappointed, and feels very much as though he’s not being welcomed.”

Bill supporters say it’s meant to keep students safe and school and protect their privacy.

Both bills now head to the full Senate for a vote.