2021 has officially become the worst year for anti-LGBTQ legislation, according to HRC (Human Rights Campaign). Previously, 2015 held that distinction, with 15 anti-LGBTQ signed into law.
As of May 7, 2021, 17 bills were signed into law that discriminate against the LGBTQ community. In addition, 11 more anti-LGBTQ bills are awaiting governors’ signatures. More bills are moving through numerous state legislatures.
According to Alphonso David, HRC President, the rights of LGBTQ people are being systematically threatened. It is an “unprecedented war” as anti-LGBTQ groups work with lawmakers to create discriminatory and harmful legislation. The legislation threatens the basic rights and humanity of LGBTQ individuals in America.
Seventeen Anti-LGBTQ Bills Enacted in 2021 so Far
The seventeen bills that have been enacted as of May 7, 2021, include:
- Arkansas – An anti-trans medical care ban bill
- Montana – An anti-trans birth certificate bill
- Tennessee and Montana – Anti-LGBTQ education bills in each state
- Arkansas – A sham “hate crimes” bill
- North Dakota – An anti-all-comers bill
- Four religious refusal bills, including in South Dakota, Montana, and Arkansas
- Seven anti-trans sports bans, including in Tennessee, West Virginia, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Montana
There has been more anti-LGBTQ legislation enacted in 2021 than in the past three years combined.
More Anti-LGBTQ Bills May Be on the Horizon
What is frightening is that more than 250 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures in 2021.
According to HRC, there are:
- At least 15 of the bills prevent transgender people from entering locker rooms or restrooms that represent their gender identity
- At least 43 of the bills would allow people to claim a religious belief as a legal reason for failing to obey laws or provide services for people they disapprove of
- At least 69 bills prevent transgender youth and some college students from playing on sports teams that align with their gender identity
- At least 35 bills prevent transgender youth from having access to gender-affirming medical care that is age-appropriate and in line with best practices for transgender youth
The ACLU has a list of the legislation proposed in states that affect LGBTQ rights on its website. They track the bill number and the status, including when the bills are signed into law or die in the process. You can check how your state legislature is moving to restrict LGBTQ rights and contact your representatives.
LGBTQ Rights Have Been in a Tug of War During the Past Two Administrations
During the Obama Administration, the LGBTQ community applauded advances in LGBTQ rights. The Administration worked to promote equality for members of the LGBTQ community. For example, the U.S. Department of Education issued guidance to schools regarding transgender students in May 2016.
As a requirement for receiving federal funds, schools had to protect transgender students. Schools were required to take steps to protect students from harassment or discrimination based on sex.
However, when President Trump took office, his Administration began undoing policies that expanded protections for LGBTQ individuals. Within weeks of being inaugurated, the Administration rescinded the transgender student guidance. In July 2017, President Trump tweeted that transgender people would no longer be eligible to serve in our military.
In October 2017, then-Attorney-General Jeff Sessions sent another blow to the LGBTQ community. He announced that the U.S. Department of Justice would not support the argument that transgender individuals were federally protected from employment discrimination.
The Trump Administration argued the exact opposite policy from the Obama Administration. Trump’s White House took the position that being transgender or gay was a category of identity. Therefore, it was different from a person’s biological sex, which was included in anti-discrimination laws.
Now it is the Biden Administration’s turn to wade into the waters of LGBTQ policies and laws. President Biden signed several executive orders to undo the Trump Administration’s damage to LGBTQ rights. However, the Administration cannot force legislation through Congress.
Even though the House passed the Equality Act, it must still go through the Senate before it reaches the President’s desk. Furthermore, you have hundreds of anti-LGBTQ bills pending in state legislatures. These laws could drastically restrict the rights and freedoms of LGBTQ individuals.
Only time will tell if President Biden can keep his campaign promises to the LGBTQ community.
Get Legal Advice if You Are the Victim of Discrimination or Harassment
There are protections available for LGBTQ individuals. You can fight discrimination. Seek legal advice from an LGBTQ attorney if you have been discriminated against because of your sexual orientation or sexual identity.