For the only gay legislator in Alabama, political defeat was very personal

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Neil Rafferty’s painful experience as a young man influenced his efforts to block new restrictions on gay and transgender youth. It came short.

Minutes before Alabama lawmakers were ready to vote on a bill that would criminalize health care for transgender youth in transition, State Representative Neil Rafferty took to the floor of the House and asked his colleagues to reconsider.

“It’s pretty hard to grow up being different,” he said. “It’s even harder to grow up to be different and after having the state legislature, your elected officials, the leaders of this state, put a target on the shoulders of the children.”

He ended his speech with a direct appeal: “Please, are you all right?”

And then he admits that his efforts were largely in vain: “What’s going to happen is going to happen. Just don’t dare call my friend after that.

Mr. Rafferty’s loss was rapid and resonant. The House approved the legislation with a 66-28 vote. On the same day in early April, the State Senate voted 26-5 for a bill requiring K-12 students to use only baths and locker rooms that correspond to gender in their original birth certificate, instead of their current gender identity. This legislation also limited classroom discussions about gender and sexual orientation, similar to a Florida measure derided by critics as “Don’t say gay.” Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, signed the two measures the next day.

Legislation, now facing legal challenges, is part of a wave of bills on gay and transgender youth that are being discussed and in some cases approved by conservative lawmakers across the country. Alabama’s version goes further than most, making what doctors describe as a cure for sexually assaulting all minors under the age of 19 a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Last year, state lawmakers also passed a measure banning transgender athletes from playing on sports teams that align with their gender identity.

For Mr. Rafferty, a Democrat and the only openly gay member of the Alabama Legislature, the new laws represent not only a political defeat, but also a personal one – a development that has had trouble discussing without tears.

“I don’t really know how I feel other than that I just feel angry and worried about all the kids and their families that have come to me,” she said. “These kids are scared. Their parents are scared.”

When Mr. Rafferty, 37, told his colleagues about the difficulty of growing gay in Alabama, it was from a painful personal experience.

Born and raised in Birmingham, he first became gay in 1998. His early teens were full of taunting and bullying which he described as an “everyday gantlet”. He ran away from home. Earlier in her year, looking for a new beginning, she moved to a different school and did not reveal her sexual identity to her classmates or teachers.

Mr. Rafferty attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham and joined the Marine Corps. While in the army, she avoided talking about personal relationships, even though she was already in a relationship with the man who would later become her husband. Only after leaving the Marines, just over a decade ago, did he become more open about his sexuality.

He spent nine years as an employee of Birmingham AIDS Outreach, working with young people and organizing H.I.V. test events throughout the region. He ran for the Legislature in 2018, becoming only the second openly elected gay legislator in the state. The first, Patricia Todd, held the same Birmingham-area House seat in front of her. Upon her retirement, Ms. Todd said she was more proud of the Alabama legislation she had helped block – measures she considered harmful to L.G.B.T.Q. constituents.

Mr. Rafferty, too, has spent his term in the Legislature working to prevent new restrictions on gay and transgender youth. He testified against such proposals. He connected the components with Republican proponents of the measures, hoping to change the minds of lawmakers by making them more comfortable with gay and transgender people and explaining the charges they said such legislation would create. He brought in local medical experts and organizers who provide support to L.G.B.T.Q. youth at the Capitol.

When the legislation came to the House floor, Mr. Rafferty appealed to his colleagues on the basis of their conservatism, arguing that they had no business involved in the decisions of parents, doctors and children. “Where’s the freedom in that?” he asked. “Where’s the little government in this?”

The Push to Restrict Rights for Young Transgender People

The Push to Restrict Rights for Young Transgender People

A growing trend. Measures that could transform the lives of transgender youth are at the heart of an ongoing political debate across America. Here’s how some states approach the subject:

Indiana. Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican, has passed a bill that would ban transgender girls from competing in school-sanctioned girls’ sports. The governor said the bill, known as H.E.A. 1041, would have probably been challenged in court.

Utah. A day after the decision in Indiana, Gov. Spencer Cox, also a Republican, passed a similar bill that would have prevented young transgender athletes from participating in girls’ sports. Republican lawmakers later voted to repeal the veto and enact legislation.

Other states. Since 2019, lawmakers have introduced projects that seek to prevent transgender youth from joining school sports teams in line with their gender identity. They have become legal in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.

His efforts have been welcomed by gay and transgender residents, who have seen him as a singularly important ally. “He has gained a certain degree of trust with trans people, not only with his representation, but because he is part of our wider community,” said Sydney Duncan, lawyer and head of L.G.B.T.Q. legal services to the organization where Mr. Rafferty once worked. “He took the time to educate himself on these issues, and this earned him a step with us so he could represent us and talk to us and see that we were treated well.”

Dan Rice, 20, appeared before lawmakers in 2020 to testify against transgender legislation similar to the law that was last approved this month. The presence of Mr Rafferty, he said, was a source of support. “The fact that there was someone who was weird and a legislator in Alabama at all was extremely comforting for me, especially when I was talking to these people and he was standing in the middle of them,” Mr. Rice said.

But Mr. Rafferty’s opponents were equally determined.

State Representative Wes Allen, one of the creators of the bathroom project, noted that his legislation has been in place for three years. He described the new transgender restrictions as common sense protection.

“We make decisions in this body all the time to protect children from making decisions that could hurt them permanently before they are old enough and have a brain developed enough to fully understand their decisions,” Mr. Allen, a Republican, said before the project. it was over.

Governor Ivey invoked God as he quickly stopped the measures. “I firmly believe that if the Good Lord has made you a boy, you are a boy, and if He has made you a girl, you are a girl,” he said in a statement. “We need to protect our children especially from these radical drugs and surgeries, which alter their lives when they are at such a vulnerable stage in life. Instead, we are all focused on helping them develop well into the adulthood that God has set for them. to be “.

Mr Rafferty was not the only lawmaker trying to break legislation – he had allies among his fellow black Democrats, in particular. But defeat always felt lonely.

“What I said on the floor that was hard to grow differently here was from my heart because I experienced it,” she said in tears in an interview. Equally difficult, he said, was “to have state legislators, your leaders sitting here trying to get rid of you, say you don’t really exist.”

The single most common factor for children who develop resilience is at least a stable and engaged relationship with a parent, caregiver, or other adult. These relationships provide personalized accountability, scaffolding, and protection that protect children from developmental disruption.

What does raising a resilient child mean?

What does raising a resilient child mean?

Highlights: Resilience is our ability to recover from difficult situations. The Harvard Center on the Developing Child states that the first thing children need to develop resilience is at least a strong relationship with a supportive adult.

How does a resilient child grow up? 10 tips to build resilience in children and adolescents

  • Make a connection. …
  • Help your child to help others. …
  • Maintain a daily routine. …
  • Take a break. …
  • Teach your child to take care of themselves. …
  • Move towards your goals. …
  • Cultivate a positive view of yourself. …
  • Keep things in perspective and keep a perspective of hope.

What does resilient child mean?

Resilience is the ability to recover from challenges and hard times. Resistant children can recover from encounters and return to life. Resilience develops when children experience challenges and learn to deal with them in a positive way. Strong relationships are the foundation of children’s resilience.

What is an example of being resilient for kids?

Face the challenges and always keep your head up. Give things a try or try your best. Be strong on the inside. Be able to face what life throws at you and throw it away.

What is resilient parenting?

Thus, parental resilience is a process that all parents need to effectively manage stressful situations and help ensure that they and their families are on a path to healthy and positive outcomes.

What is resilience in parenting?

Resilience is the process of managing stress and functioning well even when faced with challenges, adversity and trauma. Parents who show the ability to cope with the stresses of everyday life, as well as an occasional crisis, have resilience. Resilient parents also know how to seek help in times of trouble.

What are the 5 resilience factors?

I discussed the five factors that are important for developing resilience: connection to others, communication, confidence, competence and commitment, and control.

What are examples of resilience?

What are some examples of resilience at work? Facing a storm, recognizing adversity, seeing challenges with stoicism and grint – these are brief, metaphorical examples of resistance to work.

Why is child resilience important?

Why is child resilience important?

Resilience is important for children’s mental health. Children with greater resilience are better able to manage stress, which is a common response to difficult events. Stress is a risk factor for mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, whether the stress level is severe or continuous.

How does resilience affect a child’s development? Resilience is the ability to recover from stress, adversity, failure, challenges, or even trauma. It’s not something kids have or don’t have; it is a skill that children develop as they grow up. Resistant children are more likely to take healthy risks because they are not afraid to fall short of expectations.

Why are resilience skills important?

Resilience is important because it gives people the strength they need to process and overcome difficulties. Those who lack resilience are easily overwhelmed, and can return to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Resistant people exploit their strengths and support systems to overcome challenges and work through problems.

What are 3 benefits of resilience?

The Benefits of Resilience Coping with stress in a positive way is known as resilience, and has many health benefits. It is associated with longevity, lower rates of depression and greater satisfaction with life. “There’s a sense of control, and it helps people feel more positive overall,” Malloy says.

What are 3 benefits of resilience?

The Benefits of Resilience Coping with stress in a positive way is known as resilience, and has many health benefits. It is associated with longevity, lower rates of depression and greater satisfaction with life. “There’s a sense of control, and it helps people feel more positive overall,” Malloy says.

What are some benefits of resilience?

Resilience can help protect you from various mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. Resilience can also help compensate for factors that increase the risk of mental health conditions, such as being bullied or having previous trauma.

What are the 3 characteristics of resilience?

Research shows that highly resilient people tend to have three common characteristics: acceptance, purpose, and flexibility.

What are 5 ways to develop resilience?

What are 5 ways to develop resilience?

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health recommends meditating, refreshing the situation, leaning on your social network, cultivating positive thinking, laughing more and being optimistic to help build resilience.

How do you test for resilience?

How do you test for resilience?

The BRS measures resilience in its most basic and core form: as “the ability to recover from stress”. While other resilience scales measure personal characteristics, the BRS specifically examines an individual’s ability to recover from adverse events. The BRS has a Cronbach’s alpha of health.

What are the resilience indicators? A key component of completing a Resilience Assessment is to identify initial indicators to assess resilience and measure progress over time. Indicators are characteristics or characteristics of the campus and / or community that the school wants to assess.

How do I know if I have resilience?

Resilient people are aware of situations, their emotional reactions, and the behavior of those around them. By being aware, they can stay in control of a situation and think of new ways to deal with problems. In many cases, resilient people emerge stronger after such difficulties.

How do you test for resilience?

The BRS measures resilience in its most basic and core form: as “the ability to recognize from stress”. While other resilience scales measure personal characteristics, the BRS specifically examines an individual’s ability to recover from adverse events. The BRS has a Cronbach’s alpha of health.

What are 3 traits of a resilient person?

Research shows that highly resilient people tend to have three common characteristics: acceptance, purpose, and flexibility. Importantly, we know that these are not just genetic gifts that some lucky ones are born with – they are skills that we can all learn to build.

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