We are nearly a full month into Maryland’s legislative session in Annapolis. FreeState Justice is here working with partners and legislators to advocate for Maryland’s LGBTQ community. There are several bills being considered this session that will have important impacts on our community. In the coming weeks, we will let you know about the progress being made and actions you can take to help advance equality in Maryland.
H.B. 0902/S.B. 1028 – Youth Mental Health Protection Act
Prohibiting Conversion Therapy for Minors
Sponsored by: Sen. Madaleno (Montgomery County) & Del. Cullison (Montgomery County)
FreeState Justice is proud to support the Youth Mental Health Protection act of Maryland, a bill to ban “conversion therapy” for LGBTQ youth in Maryland. This would allow Maryland to join 11 other states and the District of Columbia that have done so. This bill protects minors from a form of therapy aimed at LGBTQ teens that has been largely proven dangerous and unhelpful, often leading to mental health issues. “Conversion therapy” has already been discredited by every mainstream medical and mental health organization, including the American Psychiatric Association, and banning it in Maryland is an important step to protect LGBTQ youth.
H.B. 569 – Expanding Physician Assistant Ability to Support Transgender Patients
Sponsored by: Del. Morales (Montgomery County)
H.B. 569 adds physician assistant to the definition of licensed healthcare providers. Extending the definition of a licensed healthcare provider to include physician assistants will make obtaining correct legal documents for transgender and gender non-conforming Marylanders easier. Increasingly, many people see physician assistants as their primary care provide. This change helps remove an unnecessary obstacle to obtaining needed health documentation to update identity documents.
IN OPPOSITION TO: Increased Funding for the BOOST Program
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. FreeState has submitted testimony in opposition of the bill.
IN OPPOSITION TO: H.B. 136 – St. Mary’s County Board of Library Trustees
H.B. 135 would allow the County Commissioners of St. Mary’s County to directly select members of the St. Mary’s County Board of Library Trustees. No other County in Maryland has such power over its library. As residents of St. Mary’s County have testified, HB 136 is an attempt to limit the community’s access to LGBT themed books and programming that is LGBT inclusive and affirming. FreeState submitted testimony in opposition of the bill.
H.B. 013- Vehicle Laws – Licenses, Identification Cards, and Moped, Operator’s Permits – Indication of Applicant’s Sex
Sponsored by: Del. Robinson (Montgomery County)
Current MVA policy makes it extraordinarily difficult for transgender and gender non-conforming Marylanders to obtain accurate state identification. Specifically, if the applicant for a state ID does not have a court issued decree of legal gender or an updated birth certificate or passport, the MVA policy requires two separate providers–a healthcare provider and a mental health provider–to sign off on a gender marker change, a practice that is not required anywhere else across the country. And there is no gender neutral option that would allow for the privacy and safety for those individuals who are not accurately represented by the categories of “M” or “F.”
HB 013 will modernize MVA policy by offering a gender-neutral option on IDs as well as removing the requirement for a provider signature, similar to policies in Oregon, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and California.
H.B. 1224 – Ending Youth Homelessness Act of 2018
Sponsored by: Del. Mary Washington (Baltimore City)
H.B. 1224 would establish a grant program to support services for youth experiencing homelessness. It’s estimated that more than 40% of youth who experience homelessness identify as LGBTQ. It is imperative that youth are provided services and interventions at these critical moments, and H.B. 1224 would provide that for them.
Look out for alerts in the weeks ahead to see how you can help support these legislative efforts.