*Highlights From the Legislative Leaders Included Below*
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Human Rights Campaign brought together six of the nation’s key legislative leaders fighting on the frontlines in states across the country to defeat anti-LGBTQ+ measures sweeping through state legislatures. The lawmakers — from Texas, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Kansas, and Tennessee — came together to host a virtual briefing to speak out against the slew of coordinated legislative attacks on the LGBTQ+ community – especially LGBTQ+ youth – underway in statehouses nationwide. With more than 300 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced this year, pro-equality legislators are playing a bigger role than ever before.
HEAR WHAT THESE LEGISLATORS ARE SAYING ABOUT THE DISCRIMINATORY AND UNPOPULAR BILLS INTRODUCED THEIR STATES:
Sen. Shevrin Jones, Florida:
“It’s a travesty that we are still dealing with this…Every Florida student, including our LGBTQ+ kids, deserves to learn in safe, inclusive environments where they are treated with dignity and respect – not further isolated, stigmatized, or dehumanized because of who they are. Conversations about gender identity and orientation are not taboo topics.”
“This is another stain on Florida’s history, and history will hold every last one of them accountable… We will be held accountable with what we say and what we don’t say, and that’s why I am here today. We are going to push back now, and we are going to continue to push back until we let it be known we have a right to be here and we have a right to raise our families in the same communities that they are allowed to raise their families in.”
Sen. Karen Berg, Kentucky:
“These bills are being brought in from national organizations, given to state legislatures, and they are being asked to pass these simply because they think these are polling well with no consideration to the harm this is doing to children… My Republican colleguares are actually using this as a political ploy to get votes, no matter who it hurts. “
You know, as the parent of a trans child trying to navigate the world of middle school and high school, it takes a village. It takes a village to raise a child, and what they are doing is destroying that village… in an effort to hurt children for their own political gain.”
Rep. Stephanie Byers, Kansas:
“We see this as an aggressive attack against the trans community over and over again – it’s a repeated action. When you have an imbalance of power, an aggressive act, and repeated action, that’s textbook bullying no matter how you look at it. And for what reason? They do not need to garner these votes on the backs of trans kids.”
“We’re seeing this everywhere… Missouri… Oklahoma… Iowa… where does this end? Where do trans families go for safety?”
“These trans kids, they’ve got voices now – they’ve got us.”
Sen. Raumesh Akbari, Tennessee:
“It’s a slate of hate that is designed to attack states across this country, and the people who lose are our children. Our trans kids, our LGBTQ+ families, and at what cost? .. Suicide rates are even more pronounced in our trans kids. Why would you put them in a position where they would feel less than when they already have a difficult battle ahead…At the end of the day, all children are children and they deserve to grow up in an environment that is safe, that is healthy, that is affirming, so that they can become the adults we need in our society.”
Rep. Jessica Gonzaleź, Texas:
“Every session they renew their efforts to attack our community and we simply can’t afford another session like this with Republicans in charge. Our children are not pawns for their primary reelection campaigns- love will win and hate will lose… I vow to fight for every child and every LGBTQ person is treated equally, and we must continue fighting for that at our state and national levels.”
Rep. Neil Rafferty, Alabama:
“This is part of a larger, national strategy to create a new culture war… they’re using children as political footballs for cheap political points… This gender-affirming care ban bill has been introduced, and reintroduced, and reintroduced the past three years– it’s like a bad zombie, it just keeps coming back up. This is detrimental, not just to the families, but to these children, these communities, and to any progress or inclusion in moving our state forward. Alabama is better than this and Alabama deserves better than this. We will continue to fight to make Alabama safe for all who call her home.”
We are facing the worst attack on LGBTQ+ dignity and humanity that we have seen in decades:
This year, anti-equality legislators have launched an unprecedented legislative assault on LGBTQ+ people in state legislatures across the country– surpassing 2021 as the worst year on record for introducing and enacting anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in statehouses across the country.
In 2021, More than 290 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced across 33 states in 2021, including more than 140 specifically anti-transgender bills. Each of these marks set a new record for anti-equality legislation being introduced and enacted in a single state legislative session since the Human Rights Campaign began tracking legislation.
In 2021, the worst year on record for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, 25 bills were enacted, 13 of which targeted transgender youth despite legislators failing to provide examples of what exactly they were legislating against.
2022 has seen even more bills introduced. HRC is tracking 583+ pieces of potentially LGBTQ+-related legislation introduced in the 2022 state legislative session. 313+ of these bills are harmful, and 137+ are anti-trans bills
These bills aren’t popular and are not driven by constituent demand:
This unprecedented wave of discriminatory legislation is not organic – these bills are part of a coordinated effort driven by well-funded, powerful interests and promoted by a tight network of anti-LGBTQ+ forces – including the Heritage Foundation, SPLC-designated hate group Alliance Defending Freedom, and Focus on the Family – who often write and lobby for passage of carbon copy bills in as many states as possible. These groups peddle in fear and pit people against each other to marginalize and punish LGBTQ+ people — and especially transgender children.
The reality is, support for LGBTQ+ rights has grown exponentially. Polling shows that LGBTQ+ rights are broadly supported – and continue to tick upwards – in contrast to the onslaught of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation moving in states across the country.
This wave of dangerous proposals exacts a heartbreaking toll on LGBTQ+ people– especially trans youth:
These bills highlight the discrimination, marginalization, and pain that LGBTQ+ people – especially young people, trans youth, and their families – continue to face. Too often, it’s transgender young people who are caught in the crosshairs of anti-LGBTQ+ equality legislator’s divisive political strategy. 2020 set a record number for anti-transgender bills filed with 79 bills; 2021 surpassed that record with 147 such bills, and now 2022 is now on track to break the record yet again. For transgender youth – who are simply trying to navigate their adolescence – to bear the weight of these attacks year after year, these bills take a toll.
Politicians working to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people will be responsible for very real harm. According to recent surveys, higher numbers of LGBTQ+ people experience depressive symptoms in states considering discriminatory bills while a startling 85% of transgender or gender non-binary youth say their mental health had been negatively affected by these legislative attacks.
For LGBTQ+ young people, anti-LGBTQ+ laws indicate that they are unworthy of respect, decency, and visibility with heartbreaking results: just listen to 11-year-old Libby Gonzales describing how it feels to be subjected to repeated attacks by her state legislature, or 14-year-old Rebekah about how much being able to play sports means to her, and 11–year-old Maya who details how she is able to be the person she’s always been because of life-saving gender-affirming medical care.
Unfortunately, the discrimination peddled by anti-equality legislators can be deadly. According to data from the Trevor Project, 42% of LGBTQ+ youth nationwide seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth. Discrimination can also instigate intolerance and signal permission to single out LGBTQ+ individuals – which has had deadly consequences for transgender people. 2021 and 2020 were the deadliest and second deadliest years on record for trans & gender non-conforming people respectively, with the Human Rights Campaign tracking at least 50 violent deaths in 2021 alone.
Discrimination is bad policy and bad for businesses:
The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1,000 child welfare organizations released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ+ people, and transgender children in particular.
More than 180 major U.S. corporations have stood up and spoken out to oppose discriminatory legislation being proposed in states across the country. Companies like Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, Airbnb, Dell, Dow, Google, IBM, Lyft, Marriott, Microsoft, Nike and Paypal have objected to anti-LGBTQ+ state legislation. Four of the largest U.S. food companies also condemned “dangerous, discriminatory legislation that serves as an attack on LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly transgender and nonbinary people,” and the Walton Family Foundation issued a statement expressing “alarm” at the trend of anti-transgender legislation that recently became law in Arkansas.