To honor the kick-off of Pride month, Governor Tony Evers raised the rainbow Pride flag above the state capitol for a third year in the row. But that wasn’t the only action the governor took today.
In addition to his order to raise the rainbow Pride flag, Governor Evers issued two extra executive orders to celebrate the start of Pride month. One of those directs state agencies to use gender-neutral language in external documents and communication.
The other order bars sending state and federal funds towards programs supporting conversion therapy for minors. Conversion therapy seeks to force a person to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. It’s been widely debunked by medical professionals, and condemned by human rights organizations.
Speaking at a press conference on the capitol steps, Governor Evers pointed to the long-term psychological damage the so-called therapy can cause.
“Not only is there no recognized evidence on the efficacy, but it actually does more harm than good. Research shows that conversion therapy negatively impacts our kids mental and physical health, leads to higher risk of depression and suicide for LGBT youth,” the governor told the crowd.
Governor Evers described the move as preventative, and told reporters that he wasn’t aware of any recent cases of the state funding conversion therapy. But, in March, state Republican lawmakers moved to protect the practice and prevent a ban on it.
The governor also reiterated his opposition to a pair of Republican-authored bills that seek to bar transgender students from girls and women’s sports. Those measures, which will likely be before the legislature for a vote this month, are part of a national trend of bills targeting trans kids.
Supporters of the bills argue that trans students are “stealing” athletic achievements, including scholarships, from other students. Governor Evers says that, outside of a few isolated cases, those claims have largely been debunked.
“These sorts of harmful bills and hateful policies are ‘solutions’ in search of problems that don’t exist,” he says. “They’re based on some hypothetical stories about somebody else someplace else, rather than the evidence right in front of us and the harm they can do to LGBTQ kids.”
Pride month is an annual celebration honoring the nation’s LGBTQ community.
The celebration, which includes Pride Day on June 28th, also commemorates the annual Stonewall uprising in New York City. Representative Lee Snodgrass, a member of the state legislature’s LGBTQ caucus, hearkened back to that history during her comments at today’s press conference.
“Led by a young brave, Black trans woman, the uprising against violence born out of Stonewall led a movement built on that spirit of resistance, which we honor today,” Snodgrass says. “Gay Pride, as the first march in 1970 was themed, was adopted as an intentional counterpoint to the prevailing attitude of shame. And like the indomitable spirit of those in the movement, Pride persists today.”
PHOTO: Daniel James / Unsplash