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Park City councilmembers voice strong opposition to Legislature’s transgender bills

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Robin Pendergrast
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Protestors rally in support of transgender rights outside of the Utah State Capitol on Tuesday.

Several bills targeting transgender children are currently making their way through the Utah Legislature. Local leaders are objecting - loudly.

Kris Campbell, and several other members of Park City’s LGBTQ task force, brought attention to the bills at the Park City Council meeting Tuesday evening.

“Senate Bill 16 is looking at restricting access to medical treatments and surgeries for trans youth," Campbell said.

"It specifically targets those treatments for trans youth while allowing them for other kids. Which makes it feel very much targeted towards those particular kids and not targeted because those treatments are suspect in general.”

That bill has passed in the Utah Senate and was in the House Health and Human Services Committee Wednesday afternoon.

Two other bills that would impact transgender children also passed out of the Senate.

Senate Bill 93 would ban trans kids from changing their birth certificates. Senate Bill 100 would require schools to notify parents when students change their gender identity at school, which has become a nationwide topic of debate.

House Bill 228, which seeks to re-enable conversion therapy, is sitting in the House Rules Committee. Conversion therapy was long a legal and common practice families used to try to change children who said they were gay. It was outlawed in 2020 by former Governor Gary Herbert.

Speaking to Campbell and the LGBTQ task force, Park City Councilman Max Doilney voiced support for writing a joint statement opposing any bills that detract from the city’s goal of social equity.

“They don’t represent the constituents that I represent, that’s for sure," Doilney said.

"And I would hope that Park City can step up as a whole, but I just want to tell you that in any way that we can make that really clear, I think I want to do that, regardless of the collateral damage.

"Because the collateral damage from things like this has a human impact that I just can’t accept. So I’m 100 percent into that, however we craft that.”

Councilwoman Becca Gerber agreed, and said the city should use its lobbyist to rally against any bills that don’t match Park City’s values.

“We welcome the world here, and I think policies like this make Utah seem like a very unfriendly, if not threatening place for transgender people to visit," Gerber said.

"And we want the world to feel comfortable coming and skiing in our resorts, coming to our film festivals, and coming to our events. We are a community that makes money and thrives off of tourism, and if we appear to be a place that is not welcoming to any part of the population, then I don’t think it serves us well in the long run.”

Councilwoman Tana Toly said she hadn’t done research on the bills to have an opinion.

“I’m not saying I don’t oppose them, I just need more information," Toly said. "I want that to be clear. I don’t want you to think that I’m not in support of you at all.”

Councilman Ryan Dickey said Toly's point was important.

"We should understand the bills that we’re talking about," Dickey said.

"If we’re writing letters we should have a clear grasp of that. The thing that bugs me about this stuff in totality is it’s just so mean-spirited. I mean, conversion therapy, it’s like a time machine, it’s just so terrible.”

Councilman Jeremy Rubell was not present at Tuesday’s meeting.

86 percent of transgender and nonbinary youths said debates over state laws had a negative impact on their mental health, according to a recent poll conducted by Morning Consult.

Parker Malatesta covers Park City for KPCW. Before coming to NPR, he spent one year as a general assignment reporter for TownLift in Park City. He previously was the news editor at The News Record, the student paper at the University of Cincinnati. He loves running, reading, and urban planning.