LGBTQ+ voices were heard in Annapolis this year. Due to the hard work of advocates, partner organizations, and legislators, our community claimed two large victories in the 2018 General Assembly session. With the passage of the Ending Youth Homelessness Act, additional resources, housing, and supportive services will be provided to more than 2,000 unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness across our state – a staggering amount of whom identify as LGBTQ.
Maryland is close to becoming the twelfth state in the nation to prohibit conversion therapy for LGBTQ minors. After passage in both chambers of the General Assembly by wide margins and bipartisan support, the bill heads to Governor Hogan’s desk. You can encourage the Governor to sign the bill by visiting here.
After the bill’s passage in the Senate, Delegate Meagan Simonaire (R – Anne Arundel County), broke with party lines and addressed the House floor with passionate remarks in support of the bill. She shared, “What is not broken, cannot be fixed.” In her remarks, she shared with the House that she was bisexual and personally experienced the pain associated with not being accepted for who she is. We applaud and honor Delegate Simonaire’s courage. While the primary purpose of this bill is to protect the estimated hundreds of LGBTQ youth who would be subjected to conversion therapy in Maryland in the coming years from potential harm, it also is a public affirmation from Maryland to kids across our state that they are perfect as they are. Delegate Simonaire’s impassioned words and personal example on the House floor send an equally strong message.
A huge thank you to the volunteers, partners, advocates, and legislators who helped draft legislation, testified at committee hearings, attended lobby days, sent emails, and made phone calls to ensure the progress we’ve made this session. You can read more below about this legislative session and where progress was made.
S.B. 1028/H.B. 0902 – Youth Mental Health Protection Act
Prohibiting Conversion Therapy for Minors
Sponsored by: Sen. Madaleno (Montgomery County) & Del. Cullison (Montgomery County)
The Youth Mental Health Protection Act passed the Senate 95-27 and passed the House of Delegates 34-12. This legislation prohibits the ineffective and harmful practice of so-called “conversion therapy” for LGBTQ minors by state-licensed mental health practitioners. The bill had the support of several state mental health professional associations and the ACLU of Maryland. The legislation now heads to the Governor’s desk which his offices has said publicly he supports. There is still time to make your voice heard and encourage the Governor to sign this bill by visiting here or the link below! FreeState Justice worked closely with the Human Rights Campaign, WISE of Anne Arundel County, dozens of parents of LGBTQ+ youth, and many mental health practitioners in advocating for this bill.
Legislation Banning Conversion Therapy Heads to Governor’s Desk
PASSED – S.B. 1218/H.B. 1224 – Ending Youth Homelessness Act
Sponsored by: Sen. Will Smith Jr. (Montgomery County) & Del. Mary Washington (Baltimore City)
The Ending Youth Homelessness Act passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in both chambers. The bill establishes the Ending Youth Homelessness Grant Fund within the Department of Housing and Community Development to help prevent and end youth homelessness in the state as well as address specific disparities based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The Fund’s purpose it to increase housing and supportive services for youth experiencing homelessness across the state. The bill requires grant recipients to demonstrate their capacity to competently serve LGBTQ youth. FreeState Justice supported the Homeless Persons Representation Project and the Youth Empowered Society (YES) Drop-In Center in advocating for this bill.
DEFEATED – H.B. 136 – St. Mary’s County Board of Library Trustees
H.B. 136 received an unfavorable report by a 19-3 margin in the Ways & Means Committee and was then withdrawn by the St. Mary’s County Delegation. The bill attempted to change the governance of the County’s library system. St. Mary’s County residents testified that H.B. 136 was an attempt to limit the community’s access to LGBT themed books and programming that is LGBT inclusive and affirming. FreeState testified in opposition of the bill.
FAILED TO PASS SENATE – H.B. 569 – Expanding Physician Assistant Ability to Support Transgender Patients
Sponsored by: Del. Morales (Montgomery County)
H.B. 569 soundly passed the House of Delegates by 94-43; however, it received an unfavorable report in the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee by 4-3. The bill sought to add physician assistants to the definition of licensed healthcare providers. Extending the definition of a licensed healthcare provider to include physician assistants would make obtaining correct legal documents for transgender and gender non-conforming Marylanders easier. This change helps remove an unnecessary obstacle to obtaining needed health documentation to update identity documents. FreeState plans to advocate for this bill next session.
REMAINED INTACT – BOOST Program Funding
The BOOST program is a $5 million school vouchers program impacting more than 2,500 students and nearly 200 private schools. Though participating private schools sign “assurances” that they will not discriminate against students, two schools were found to have discriminatory policies codified within their student handbook. Additionally, these assurances do not protect against gender identity of students nor do they prevent discrimination based on the sexual orientation or gender identity of a student’s family members. Maryland must ensure that public dollars are not used by private schools to discriminate. Funding remains intact and assurance language was not strengthened.
WITHDRAWN – H.B. 013- Vehicle Laws – Licenses, Identification Cards, and Moped Operator’s Permits – Indication of Applicant’s Sex
Sponsored by: Del. Robinson (Montgomery County)
H.B. 013 would modernize MVA policy by offering a gender-neutral option on IDs and removing the requirement for a provider signature, similar to policies in Oregon, Massachusetts, California, and the District of Columbia. A hearing was held on the bill this session, where advocates were able to educate legislators on the importance of access to correct identity documents for all Marylanders. The bill was withdrawn to allow the opportunity for the MVA to take internal action on this matter, similar to the procedure in other jurisdictions. FreeState and our partners will continue to advocate directly to the MVA to change these policies.