Two brave school students called Liam and Evan Oliver have asked state legislators in Florida to “stop being bullies” and reject legislation that target their trans friends.
Bills have been filed in 25 states across the US, including Florida, which seek to ban trans women and girls from competing in school sports teams that match their gender. According to Florida news station News4Jax, the version of the bill in the Florida House would outright ban trans women from competing in women’s sports, but the Senate version would allow trans athletes to compete provided they maintain a low testosterone level.
However, Liam and Evan Oliver, who are middle and elementary school students in Florida, told lawmakers that any bill banning trans people from participating in sports amounted to ‘bullying’.
Liam, who is the older sibling, said he was “opposing this anti-trans bill” because it is “unconstitutional” as the “14th Amendment gives every person equal protection under the law, regardless of gender identity”. He shared that he has a trans friend named Sam, “who’s already bullied enough for being who he is”.
“Stop being bullies and vote no to this bill,” Liam said.
The “equal protection clause” is part of the first section of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution. The clause, which took effect in 1868, provides no state can “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”. It mandates that individuals in similar situations be treated equally by the law, and it has figured prominently in a wide variety of landmark cases including some highlighting gender discrimination.
Evan took to the podium after his brother, arguing the proposed bill “targets trans girls” and that it’s “unwanted by most of the public” in Florida. He said: “It’s also unfair to give trans kids more trouble than they already have.
“I was taught growing up that you should stop hurting people if you already are. Don’t hurt trans girls. Vote no.”
The brothers’ impassioned words were shared on the Human Rights Campaign’s Twitter page and has been viewed almost 6,000 times. Anna Vishkaee Eskamani, a Democrat congresswoman for Orlando, Florida, shared the video and wrote: “We’re fighting right alongside you.”
Eskamani told News4Jax that she would oppose the anti-trans legislation because it was discriminatory against LGBT+ people living in Florida. She said: “The fact that we’re hand-picking cases that have become sensational in the right-wing media to draw this dynamic of anti-trans rhetoric is really dangerous to equity across the country.”
“Excluding kids from playing a sport they want to play because they’re in the process of gender transition feels really wrong,” Eskamani said.