March 20, 2023
So far this year, nearly 500 bills targeting LGBTQ+ people have been introduced in states across the country – a dramatic increase over 2022 and 2021, which already set records.
The bills introduced – and some now passed – over the past few years follow the same aggressive template from state to state. Most of them target LGBTQ+ youth, ranging from forcing teachers to out transgender students before they are ready or banning any discussion of LGBTQ+ people and issues in schools, to banning transgender kids from playing on school sports teams with their friends and criminalizing doctors and parents for providing essential health care that can enable transgender youth to thrive.
Now we are also seeing this radical anti-LGBTQ+ agenda in Congress, where far-right politicians in the House have introduced two bills that, if passed, would have dire consequences for LGBTQ+ kids and their families across the country.
- HR 734 would ban transgender and intersex youth from playing on school sports teams, taking away the important social and health benefits, and the opportunities to build skills like teamwork, cooperation, and leadership we know kids get from playing sports.
- HR 5 would insert the federal government as a national school board, undermine local control, and hurt the ability of parents and teachers to support children. At a moment when we are already seeing dangerous moves toward school censorship and book bans, this unprecedented federal government interference would disrupt the public education system, undermine our communities, especially LGBTQ+ families and families of color, and cut LGBTQ+ youth off from accessing the resources and support they need to thrive.
These two federal bills – as harmful as they are – are just the tip of the iceberg of what we might see if we don’t stop them now.
As we’ve seen in the states, where bills targeting LGBTQ+ people have exploded—from schools to marriage equality to drag shows—some politicians are set on using false claims about LGBTQ+ people to stoke fears and score political points. Those false claims create a culture of hostility and fear have been shown to increase levels of depression and suicidality within LGBTQ+ youth.
The good news is that people on the side of inclusion, justice, and love understand that we are all in this together. We know that an attack on one is an attack on all. And when we work together, we can protect ourselves and each other.
The sheer volume of anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced over the past three years is alarming and overwhelming.
But even in these times when it can feel like we are constantly on defense, we can take action to fight these attacks and secure critical legal rights for our community.
While cynical far-right actors provoke anxiety and cause harm to the most vulnerable LGBTQ+ people, we have the power and the responsibility to work and encourage the country to live up to the promise of justice, love, and freedom for all of us.