Good news can come out of bad news — there were 315 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in state legislatures last year, but 91 percent of them failed to become law, the Human Rights Campaign reports.
That’s one of the findings in the ninth annual State Equality Index, released Thursday by the HRC Foundation (the advocacy group’s educational arm) and the Equality Federation Institute.
“The 2022 State Equality Index outlines how states across the country fought back against yet another record year of anti-LGBTQ+ legislative attacks,” JoDee Winterhof, HRC’s senior vice president of policy and political affairs, said in a press release. “In the face of these attacks, legislators and advocates fought back, with fewer than 10 percent of the anti-LGBTQ+ discriminatory bills introduced passing into law. These bills are terrible public policy, and we are also deeply cognizant of how every harmful anti-LGBTQ+ bill that is signed into law has a devastating impact on the lives and well-being of LGBTQ+ people, particularly children. The legislative assault and hateful rhetoric towards our community has also led to more stigma, discrimination, and ultimately, suicide and deadly violence – particularly against the transgender community. As we continue our fight for LGBTQ+ equality, this report underscores that equality is the winning side of this issue.”
The largest proportion of the bills introduced — 149 — specifically targeted transgender and nonbinary people, particularly youth. There were 80 bills aimed at barring trans youth from playing school sports consistent with their gender identity and 42 bills to prevent trans and nonbinary youth from receiving gender-affirming health care. By the end of the 2022 legislative session, a record 17 bills attacking trans and nonbinary children passed into law. Overall, nineteen states exclude trans athletes from school sports and five states restrict access to gender-affirming health care.
Another trend was curriculum censorship legislation, restricting instruction on LGBTQ+ issues and other marginalized communities. Across the country, 70 curriculum censorship bills were filed and seven passed into law, including Florida’s infamous “don’t say gay” legislation.
Overall, only 29 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in 2022 became law. Also, 24 pro-equality bills were passed into law, with some making it easier to update driver’s licenses and birth and death certificates with correct names and gender markers, others banning insurance exclusions for health care for trans people, and yet others expanding nondiscrimination protections in housing, employment, and education.
Still, some egregiously discriminatory bills passed. “During the final hours of their legislative session, Alabama lawmakers passed a sweeping package of discriminatory bills that contained a number of anti-LGBTQ+ measures, the worst of which criminalized parents for providing gender-affirming care for their transgender children, barred transgender children from using bathrooms and locker rooms that aligned with their gender identity, and censored classroom discussions on LGBTQ+ issues,” HRC’s press release states.
Alabama is one of the 23 states in the SEI’s lowest-ranking category, “High Priority to Achieve Basic Equality.” The others are Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
North Dakota and Kentucky are in the next category, “Building Equality,” a move up for Kentucky. Wisconsin moved up to the second-best category, “Solidifying Equality,” joining Alaska, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Utah.
Twenty states and the District of Columbia are in the highest-rated group, “Working Toward Innovative Equality”: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, D.C., Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.
“As the 2022 State Equality Index shows, last year saw a continuation of the recent dramatic explosion of legislation targeting transgender people, especially transgender youth, exploiting myths and misunderstandings about what it means to be transgender,” Fran Hutchins, executive director of the Equality Federation Institute, said in the release. “Despite the increasing number of bills filed nationwide, advocates and activists on the ground were able to beat back the majority of this legislation. We know the mere introduction and discussion of these bills further fuels anti-LGBTQ+ stigma nationwide, resulting in violence against our community. It’s more important than ever to focus our attention on protecting LGBTQ+ people in the states, where the work is hard, but the impact is great.”
Read the full report here.