Pride Month is Marred by a Record Number of Anti-LGBTQ+ Bills in State Legislatures
“We are powerful because we have survived, and that is what it is all about- survival and growth.” - Audre Lorde
Pride Month should be a time for celebrating love, the freedom to love whom we choose, and triumph over the prejudice, ignorance, and fear of the past.
The prejudice, ignorance, and fear of the present, however, have cast a dark shadow over this year’s celebration.
In the past few years, there has been an astonishing increase in the bills restricting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning people of the community (LGBTQ+). In this legislative session alone, state legislators have introduced a record 491 proposals to undermine and weaken nondiscrimination laws, limiting access to books and performances like drag shows, blocking medically-necessary and gender-affirming health care.
Nearly half of the bills target our most vulnerable young people, attempting to prevent trans students from participating in school activities like sports, to force teachers to out students, and to censor any in-school discussions of LGBTQ people and issues.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed four bills on May 17th as well as expanded on Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law. This law has restricted sexual orientation and gender identity discussions in the classroom from kindergarten to third grade. The updated law will expand the prohibited discussion to eighth grade.
How will our youth express their authentic selves if it is illegal?
On June 28th, 1969, in New York City, police raided a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn. Such raids were commonplace, as the expression of LGBTQ identity – cross-dressing, holding hands, kissing, or dancing with someone of the same sex – was illegal. This time, however, instead of complying, the crowd fought back. This spark ignited a fire, which led to five days of rioting to defend LGBTQ rights in America.
History is being reversed. Politicians hoping to ride a wave of hatred and ignorance into higher office are driving the nation backward toward the dark days of shame before Stonewall.
Black, indigenous, and people of color LGBTQ individual experience far more discrimination than their white counterparts. They already face systemic hurdles in employment and the justice system. They also experience discrimination in situations that impact their basic needs: 24% reported discriminatory treatment from a healthcare provider, 44% share that discrimination has impacted them from renting or buying a home, and 48% have an income of less than $40,000 a year.
While not all of the anti-LGBTQ bills will become law, they all have a devastating effect.
In 2022, 41% of LGBTQ youth contemplated suicide. This rate is twice as high as the general population of youth. Further, 11% of white LGBTQ youth attempted suicide while double the amount of BIPOC LGBTQ attempted suicide.
The legislation that wishes to ban important conversations about the LGBTQ community will not witness progress, only children’s deaths.
Throughout history, figures such as Audre Lorde, Marsha P. Johnson, James Baldwin, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, Gladys Bentley, Ron Oden, Lorraine Hansberry, and Phill Wilson have paved a path of hope. They will continue to inspire today’s LGBTQ youth of color and their needed allies. These icons will not be forgotten; we will fight for their history and our youth’s futures.