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With progress there often comes backlash, and that's certainly playing out after such achievements as nationwide marriage equality, open military service for gay and bi folks, and unprecedented transgender visibility. More than 160 anti-LGBT bills have been introduced in state legislatures for the 2016 session, far more than last year, according to the Human Rights Campaign. The bills are in 31 states.
Most of the bills fall into two broad categories. Many are "religious freedom" bills aimed at giving businesses, individuals, and even in some cases state employees and contractors legal cover to discriminate if they have faith-based objections to serving same-sex couples or other LGBT people, or anyone else, for that matter — say, single parents or members of another faith. The main driver of these bills, however, is that some providers of wedding-related goods and services don't want to serve same-sex unions. The other broad category consists of bills preventing transgender people from using the sex-segregated restrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities that match their gender identity. A lot of these bills concentrate on public schools. "They're really targeting transgender kids," says HRC senior legislative counsel Cathryn Oakley. If passed, though, these bills will put school districts in conflict with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bans sex discrimination — including discrimination based on gender identity — in schools that receive federal funds, which almost all public schools do. So discrimination could cost them some money.
The picture is changing daily — so follow the situation with The Advocate as well as the HRC and the American Civil Liberties Union, as these organizations keep track of the changes. On the next pages are a dozen of the worst states in terms of anti-LGBT legislation so far this year.