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The Extreme Right is Working to Erase LGBTQ+ People from Public Life and Keep it That Way

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By WENDY ROGOVIN | BIGTENTUSA
Over 725 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced this year. The flood of anti-LGBTQ+ law-making is all part of a coordinated attack, the goal of which is the erasure of LGBTQ+ people and the erection of structural barriers, to prevent change.  This is not an exaggeration. At the March CPAC meeting, right-wing commentator Michael Knowles called for the eradication of transgender people from public life entirely. 
The Movement Advancement Project (“MAP”) published an excellent and comprehensive study entitled Under Fire: The War on LGBTQ People in America.  The report lays out the methods used in the efforts to erase LGBTQ youth and content from schools and beyond.
Erasure of LGBTQ+ people, especially students
  • “Don’t say gay laws”
  •   Laws that ban or fine teachers and schools for talking about LGBTQ people or issues.
  •  Banning /removal of books containing LGBTQ+ subject matter from libraries.
  •  Criminalizing and banning transition-related care and criminalizing supportive parents and doctors.
  • Laws prohibiting transgender and nonbinary people from updating identity documents.
  • Laws requiring governments, schools, and teachers to only recognize sex assigned at birth or inaccurate pronouns.
  •  Regulating drag shows.
Enshrine inequality
  •  Repealing and waging war against nondiscrimination protections so that LGBTQ can be fired or not hired, refused housing, denied service in public places, even denied medical care, and more. The Supreme Court’s 303 Creative LLC v Elenis does just this.
Erect systemic and structural barriers to make change harder
  • Efforts to roll back voting rights, and to make it more difficult to vote.  As of May 2023, at least 380 bills in 47 states were introduced restricting voter access.
  • Gerrymandering making accountability more difficult.
  • Reshaping the judiciary to remove checks and balances.
  • Making direct democracy more difficult.
  • Insulation of lawmakers and Supreme Court Justices from accountability.
  • Silencing lawmakers who disagree with their tactics.  e.g., Montana legislature barring Rep. Zephyr from participating in the rest of the state’s legislative session after she spoke out against a proposed ban on prescribed medical care for transgender youth.  And in Nebraska a legislature who spoke out against a similar bill was accused of a conflict of interest because she has a transgender child.
Silence Supporters 
  • Anti-LGBTQ opponents also want to silence, sue, fine and penalize parents, teachers, doctors, companies and others who are LGBTQ allies.
 
Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation Introduced in 2023
LGBT rights are the canary in the coal mine of democratic backsliding.  Bankrolled by extremist hate groups such as Alliance Defending Freedom, this year alone, over 725 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in 41 states. And with 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, the Supreme Court has created a “religious opt-out” from non-discrimination laws that will have far-reaching and devastating consequences.
Here is a round up of the laws that have been introduced in 2023 to accomplish the stated goal of erasing LGBTQ+ people from the public. Of the 725 anti-LGBTQ bills that have been introduced in 2023, some 75  have been signed into law this year. And also, there is a bit of good news. Federal judges — including two Trump appointees— and one county circuit judge have blocked seven bans on gender-affirming care for transgender youth, and three bans on public drag performances.
  • Bills Banning Gender-Affirming Care for Transgender Youth:  
    • Approximately 150 bills have been introduced seeking to restrict or prohibit gender-affirming medical treatments for transgender youth. Critically, these bills disregard the overwhelming evidence of the benefits of gender-affirming care for transgender youth and the fact that all major medical organizations support such treatment. These laws target treatments such as hormone therapy or puberty blockers, which are recognized as essential for the well-being of transgender individuals and as life-saving in many instances.
    • A Federal court has struck down and permanently enjoined one such law in Arkansas, Missouri and another in Indiana. A Federal Appeals Court in Tennessee however lifted the stay permitting Tennessee’s ban on gender affirming care for minors to take effect immediately.
  • Bills Restricting Transgender Students’ Participation in School Sports:
    • More than 45 bills have been introduced that would prohibit transgender students from participating in school sports teams by requiring athletes to compete based on their sex assigned at birth rather than their gender identity.
  • “Bathroom Bills” (Restricting Access to Restrooms Based on Gender Identity):
    • Over thirty bills have been introduced seeking to limit transgender individuals’ access to restrooms and other gender-segregated facilities based on their gender identity. These laws often mandate individuals to use facilities corresponding to their sex assigned at birth.
  • Curriculum Censorship (Restricting Discussion of LGBTQ+ Topics in Schools):
    • More than 70 bills attempt to restrict or prohibit the discussion of LGBTQ+ topics, including sexual orientation and gender identity, in schools. They may limit teachers’ ability to provide inclusive and comprehensive education about LGBTQ+ issues.
  • Drag Performance Restrictions:
    • Several bills aim to restrict and even criminalize drag performances. Constitutional challenges to these laws have been successful.
  • Creating a License to Discriminate:
    • These bills seek to provide legal protection or exemptions for individuals, businesses, or religious organizations to discriminate against LGBTQ+ individuals based on religious or moral beliefs. They often target areas such as adoption services, healthcare, or public accommodations. The Supreme Court’s 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis accomplishes this by permitting a religious “opt-out” from Colorado’s non-discrimination law. 
  • Silencing Educators and Prohibiting Instruction on Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity:
    • Multiple bills attempt to restrict educators from discussing or providing information about sexual orientation, gender identity, or LGBTQ+ topics in schools. They can hinder inclusive and comprehensive sex education and limit students’ access to important information.
  • Censoring School Curriculum, Including Books:
    • A number of bills aim to censor or limit the inclusion of LGBTQ+ content in school curricula, including books and other educational materials. They may restrict access to diverse and inclusive resources, hindering students’ understanding of different identities and experiences.
  • Restricting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Programs or Trainings:
    • These bills seek to limit or prohibit diversity, equity, and inclusion programs or trainings in various contexts, including schools and government entities. They may hinder efforts to address systemic discrimination and promote understanding and acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals.
  • Misgendering and Forcibly Outing Transgender and Non-Binary Students:
    • Multiple bills involve policies that intentionally misgender or disclose confidential information about transgender and non-binary students without their consent. Such actions can violate their privacy and contribute to a hostile and unsafe environment.
  • LGBTQ Erasure Bills:
    • Multiple bills aim to define “sex” in state statutes in a way that excludes recognition or protection of LGBTQ+ individuals. By adopting a narrow and exclusionary definition, these bills deny equal rights and legal protections to the LGBTQ+ community.
    • Laws prohibiting non-binary and transgender people from changing the sex marker on their birth certificate have been introduced as well. A Federal Court blocked from enforcing its efforts to restrict sex-marker updates.
 
Here are ways you can join the fight to support the constitutional and democratic rights and freedoms of LGBTQ+ people: