Recently, there has been a sharp increase in anti-LGBTQ legislation proposed, with almost half targeting transgender people. States introduced a record of 238 bills in 2022 to limit the rights of LGBTQ people. In 2018, there were only 41 bills.
These laws would limit the inclusion of LGBTQ subjects in school curricula, provide religious exemptions for discrimination against LGBTQ individuals, and restrict trans people’s access to gender-affirming bathrooms, gender-neutral sports facilities, and gender-affirming medical treatment.
These bills are proposed under the guise of parental rights, protecting children, or religious freedom. And often a combination of all. However, it’s become increasingly clear that this has nothing to do with protecting children, as the statistics for LGBTQ youth being homeless or struggling with mental health and suicide are shocking.
“It’s important for people to pause and think about what is happening — especially in the health care context — because what we’re seeing is that the state should have the authority to declare a population of people so undesirable that their medical care that they need to survive becomes a crime,” Chase Strangio, the deputy director for transgender justice at the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project, said. “What more terrifying intrusion of the state could there be?” 1
The majority of Americans don’t agree with these laws. “Nearly 8 in 10 Americans, or 79 percent, support laws that protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in jobs, housing, and public accommodations, according to a Public Religion Research Institute survey released Thursday. That same survey also found that nearly 70 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage, up from 54 percent in 2014.” 2
Yet, all over the country, new laws are constantly popping up. In Florida, the Parental Rights Education Law also dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law, completely forbids teachers from discussing gender identity or sexual orientation in K-3 classrooms. “It’s an intentional vagueness about age-appropriate conversations, which leads to just the general stereotype of queerness being sexually deviant and dangerous to youth, which is completely untrue, and leads many people to just hate themselves,” said Rain Weinstein, a transgender 18-year-old senior at Palm Harbor University High School.” 3
“The bill does say gender identity and sexual orientation. And because of the place it’s coming from, it implies gay and trans,” said Steph Ostrow, a transgender and non-binary registered mental health counseling intern in Pinellas County.
“And so words like ‘appropriate’ have been weaponized. It’s a coded word. It comes from this place of presuming that teachers, faculty, staff, guardians and family members, and students themselves are all heterosexual and cisgender. And that any variation from that is not appropriate.”
“My retort is,” Ostrow said, “are we going to keep cisgender and heterosexual teachers, faculty, and staff from having pictures of their partners and children on their desks? Because that might bring up a conversation about gender identity and sexual orientation? Are we going to exclude books that say the words boy and girl, because that is the gender identity?”4
The Oklahoma State Senate passed several anti-LGBTQ+ measures, including S B2, which would prevent transgender girls from participating in sports teams that correspond to their gender identification. In addition, the Senate also approved SB 9 and SB 1100. If passed, these proposals would prohibit teaching LGBTQ-related content in schools and limit nonbinary youth’s access to gender-affirming documents.
“Today, the Oklahoma Senate voted to advance three anti-LGBTQ+ bills regulating school sports, identity documents, and curriculum. While their subjects were different, their target was the same: transgender and nonbinary youth. Lawmakers added these attacks to the agenda behind closed doors in the early hours of the morning, part of a coordinated strategy to use trans youth as political pawns,” said Sam Ames, Director for Advocacy and Government Affairs at The Trevor Project. “This legislation offers solutions to problems that simply do not exist in Oklahoma, but the harm it can cause LGBTQ+ youth is very real. We urge the governor to follow the actions of governors in Utah and Indiana and veto the anti-trans sports ban that is now heading to his desk. We also urge the Oklahoma House to reject SB 9 and SB 1100 in support of their trans and nonbinary constituents.” 5
Including these bills passed in Florida and Oklahoma, many other states have recently passed anti LGBTQ legislation that limits the rights of LGBTQ people, such as:
- Georgia legislation limits discussion of LGBT issues, similar to Florida legislation.
- An Idaho law could subject parents who consent to their children to gender-affirming medical care and medical professionals who give it to life in jail.
- Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, recently signed an executive order to investigate allegations of child abuse against parents of transgender children seeking gender-affirming medical care.
- Public schools in Iowa now prohibit transgender women and girls from participating in sports.
- Any conversation, textbook, or educational materials on “LGBT problems or lifestyle” are prohibited in Tennessee’s public schools.
Even in these tumultuous times, there are resources available to anyone who may be struggling. Some worth looking into are:
Bisma is a recent graduate from CUNY Baruch College, majoring in Communications. She likes long drives, exploring new parks, trying new food, and making a positive change in the world.