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LGBTQ+ Americans Are in 'State of Emergency,' Declares Human Rights Campaign

LGBTQ+ Americans Are in 'State of Emergency,' Declares Human Rights Campaign

<p>LGBTQ+ Americans Are in 'State of Emergency,' Declares Human Rights Campaign</p>
Michael Mattes/

In a time of unprecedented legislative attacks on the LGBTQ+ community, the civil rights group is offering resources for fighting back.

The Human Rights Campaign has declared a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people in the United States for the first time in its more than 40-year history, following what it calls “an unprecedented and dangerous spike in anti-LGBTQ+ legislative assaults sweeping state houses this year.”

A report released by HRC Tuesday, “LGBTQ+ Americans Under Attack,” notes that more than 75 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been signed into law in 2023, more than doubling the number, in 2022, previously the worst year on record.

HRC also issued a national warning and downloadable guidebook for the LGBTQ+ community. It includes “health and safety resources, a summary of state-by-state laws, ‘know your rights’ information, and resources designed to support LGBTQ+ travelers as well as those already living in hostile states,” according to an HRC press release.

“LGBTQ+ Americans are living in a state of emergency,” HRC president Kelley Robinson said in the release. “The multiplying threats facing millions in our community are not just perceived — they are real, tangible and dangerous. In many cases they are resulting in violence against LGBTQ+ people, forcing families to uproot their lives and flee their homes in search of safer states, and triggering a tidal wave of increased homophobia and transphobia that puts the safety of each and every one of us at risk.”

Robinson said as LGBTQ+ Pride Month continues in June, the group will continue to provide resources to protect LGBTQ+ people across the country. That means, she said, whether they are travelling to states with anti-LGBTQ+ laws or they live in states with such laws.

“There is an imminent threat to the health and safety of millions of LGBTQ+ people and families, who are living every day in uncertainty and fear. Our number one priority will always be ensuring that LGBTQ+ people are safe and have the tools they need to defend and protect themselves against acts of hostility, discrimination and — in the most extreme cases — violence," Robinson added.

HRC also called on allies of LGBTQ+ people to support the queer people in their lives and in their communities.

Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida, issued a statement in partnership with HRC. Equality Florida was the first group to issue a travel advisory for LGBTQ+ who were thinking to travel to Florida.

“Florida stands at the forefront of the fight against these oppressive laws now proliferating throughout the nation,” Smith said. “It is heartbreaking to witness families uproot themselves in search of access to healthcare and inclusive classrooms, free from book bans and censorship.”

Smith added, “The assault on freedom is not limited to one state but permeates across America. The erosion of civil liberties by extremists to further their own political ambitions, poses a direct threat to the health and safety of LGBTQ individuals. It is imperative for all of us to recognize the gravity of this moment and commit ourselves to being on the frontlines, unwavering in our fight for freedom.”

HRC has tracked a steady increase in anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in state legislatures over the last several years — from 115 bills introduced in 2015 to more than 525 in 2023. This year’s bills were introduced in 41 states. More 220 of them explicitly targeted transgender people.

With this year’s actions and those of the past few years, 21 states now restrict transgender students’ participation in school sports. This affects 30 percent of high school-aged trans youth, according to HRC. Some of the laws affect elementary and middle school students, and some restrict college students as well.

Twenty states have banned some or all gender-affirming care for trans minors, meaning 30.9 percent of trans youth aged 13-17 are living in states where they can no longer access this lifesaving, best-practices medical care.

Nine states have laws barring trans people from using the restrooms, locker rooms, or other facilities comporting with their gender identity while in public school buildings and, in some cases, other venues. These restrictions affect 14.8 percent of trans people aged 13 and older, over 243,000 of the 1.6 million transgender people in the U.S. This includes 32,700 trans youth nationwide, or 10.9 percent of all trans youth aged 13-17.

Families of states with these anti-LGBTQ+ laws have also spoken out about the harm this legislation has brought on their lives.

“Being forced to leave our family and friends, with Texas roots over a hundred years, is going to be the hardest thing we’ll ever do,” said Wendy, a mother of four in Texas who is relocating to Minnesota this summer, in the HRC release. “Our close-knit family, especially my mom, is devastated. Going from seeing each other every week to every other month is going to be emotionally challenging.”

“It’s difficult to articulate what it’s like to be forced out like this," said Megan, a Montana parent who has a transgender child and is looking for jobs in other states. "It sort of makes you feel like a refugee, as we’ll obviously do whatever we need to do to keep our child safe."

Megan explained that she had a good job in Montana and good support network, which all make it even harder to possibly leave the state after the governor signed a law restricting gender-affirming care.

Texan Rachel Gonzales, a member of HRC’s Parents for Transgender Equality Council, said her family has been fighting for years to make her trans daughter safe.

“Despite the exponentially heightened threats we face today from hate-filled legislators, we are still surrounded by Texans who know, love, and support us. It is horrifying that so many families are being used as pawns in this manufactured debate from political extremists. We want every trans kid and adult here to know that they are not alone, we are staying put and we’ll be fighting right here alongside you,” Gonzales said.

“When a child's basic needs are not being met, or when a child is neglected or endangered in the home, Child Protective Services is called. But what happens when it's the state that's endangering a child? When the state is not allowing basic needs to be met?” said Daniel, who is the father of a transgender youth and recently moved from Florida to Minnesota. “We have our own version of Child Protective Services and removed our child from the danger and neglect from the sate.”

The guidebook HRC released Tuesday offers information and resources to help LGBTQ+ people stay safe while living or traveling in most hostile areas of the U.S. It is part of a larger effort by HRC, which will put out more resources in the next few months.

It includes a state-by-state rundown of anti-LGBTQ+ policies as well as LGBTQ+ protections; information on how to determine access to LGBTQ+ health care; resources for financing a move to safer states and finding employment; guidelines on dealing with school boards; information on filing complaints for violation of civil rights laws; how to identify the sources of harmful rhetoric and legislative attacks; how to engage in local advocacy opposing anti-LGBTQ+ efforts; and how to talk with friends and family about anti-LGBTQ+ hate.

More information is available on HRC’s website.

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