Omaha LGBTQ+ faith community reacts to advancement of transgender youth bills

Local reverends say they’re concerned about transgender youth legislation in both Iowa and Nebraska.
Faith leaders in the LGBTQ+ community are worried about the future if LB574 further advances.
Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 5:51 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Supporters of the LGBTQ+ community in Omaha are concerned about what happened in the Legislature this afternoon.

The Nebraska Legislature voted 30-17 to advance a bill that would ban hormone treatments, puberty blockers, and gender-reassignment surgery for those ages 18 and younger.

There will be more debate and discussion before the bill is passed, but in Iowa, all the talking is over.

This week, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a similar measure known as the “bathroom bill,” into law that mirrors the Nebraska bill now being discussed.

Rev. Juniper Meadows is the minister of the Second Unitarian Church of Omaha.

“To me, it feels like a means for some of our elected leaders to identify a vulnerable population that they can incite an anxiety against, to use misunderstanding and fear as a chip like it’s a game of power, but these are actual people’s lives,” Meadows said.

“(How) unusual to have the state limit how a parent can care of for their child and meet their child’s health needs, whether that’s mental or physical,” said Rev. Shari Woodbury of Omaha’s First Unitarian Church.

Both reverends are concerned about transgender youth legislation in both Iowa and Nebraska. Rev. Meadows, who is transgender, says all this is putting too much pressure on trans youth.

“Of course when people feel trapped, when they feel like they’re pinned up against the wall sometimes, their mind might go to what feels like unthinkable and horrifying solutions to their problem,” Meadows said. “So will this result in more young trans people considering that permanent escape? Probably.”

Both see this issue from a lens outside the political arena, and both believe there is a simple answer to help those feeling targeted.

“As people of faith — if there are other people of faith out there watching — what is the ultimate core of any faith? I believe it’s love,” Meadows said. “How can we act from love, and being allies supports friends... just caring human beings to those who are under the gun right now.”

LB574 must pass two more rounds of voting before it reaches Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen’s desk.