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Trans rights protesters hold Louisiana capitol lobby, removed by security

By Serena Sojic-Borne

Protesters chant and wave Pride flag in Capitol lobby.

Baton Rouge, LA – On May 24 at 3 p.m., protesters held the floor of the Louisiana Capitol lobby to defend transgender youth. They demanded that Governor Edwards veto SB 44, a bill that would ban trans girls from playing sports. Republicans pushed the bill through the House and Senate with significant support from Democrats.

The action also demanded a stop to the Don’t Say Gay bill and the ban on gender-affirming medical care for youth. These two other pieces of anti-LGBTQ legislation did not make it as far in the legislature because of mass marches, phone calls, lobbying and rallies.

Four participants linked arms and sat down in a circle, while one stood in the middle to lead chants and wave a Pride flag reading “Stop the sports ban.” They chanted “Hands off trans kids!” and “Democrats, pick a side, 44 is suicide!” They took inspiration from an abortion rights protest that used the same formation in 2019.

Protesters rotated who was in the middle. Speakers highlighted how the sports ban was a ploy to scapegoat trans kids. They talked about how it was part of a billionaire-funded, coordinated far-right attack on all democratic rights. They said, “If we give the far right an inch, they take a mile” and pushed for unity in defense of LGBTQ youth.

They held their ground for half an hour before security and capitol police pulled them out because “the noise disrupted the legislative process.” On May 12, evangelicals held a loud rally against abortion in the same lobby with no harassment from capitol police.

Mar Ehrlich, a protester with Real Name Campaign, commented, “The protest was really successful. Over 100 youth got to see it. We don’t keep quiet when our dignity’s under attack. The legislature and the governor have been ignoring us for months, so we made sure we were heard.”

Students of all ages from different schools were in the lobby on field trips. They watched the protesters and encouraged the action. Several were noticeably quiet about supporting, possibly for fear of anti-LGBTQ sentiment in their school groups, but they gave discreet thumbs ups anyway.

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