The Human Rights Campaign is not optimistic about how 2023 will play for the LGBT community.
During a virtual press conference, the advocacy group shared that over 300 anti-LGBT bills were drafted last year, and although a majority did not pass, they think 2023 will be even worse.
“We know last year was bad, but what’s worse is the same extremist politicians who led those efforts are doubling down this year,” said Kelley Robinson, the president of the HRC.
Last year, 29 anti-LGBT bills were signed in to law from the 315 that were drafted, thanks in part to groups like the HRC. Of those, 149 took aim at the transgender and non-binary community, specifically children. Robinson called it “frankly, unfathomable.”
This year, there are 250 bills drafted with 150 aimed at trans and non-binary people, “the most anti-trans bills that we have ever seen before.”
“They’re spending their energy attacking trans youth … when they should focus on the needs of their constituents,” Robinson continued. “To say that the LGBTQ+ community is facing a crisis is an understatement.”
Florida, Texas and Tennessee were specifically highlighted during the press conference. In the Sunshine State, the Parental Rights in Education bill, or “Don’t Say Gay,” has led to books being pulled from library shelves and “safe space” stickers removed from classrooms, drag queens are under attack, the Florida Board of Medicine is working to eliminate healthcare for transgender youth, and more.
“If it can happen in Florida, it can happen anywhere else,” said FL Sen. Shevrin Jones. “All of this is being [presented] as religious freedom, parental rights when it’s wrapped up in true indoctrination, racism and discrimination and I have to call it out.”
Even though a majority of the bills do not pass, being proposed has done harm to the community. Olivia Hunt, the policy director from the National Center for Transgender Equality, shared statistics from the Trevor Project of how the anti-LGBT rhetoric and bill proposals have done a number of mental health and bullying.
In its study of Florida LGBTQ youth, 65% of those who wanted mental health care could not get it in the last year, 74% experienced discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and 37% felt politics negatively impacted their wellbeing.
“Even in states where legislation fails … our community suffers,” Hunt said.
Although things are not looking good, the HRC is not backing down.
“They seek to punish us, to silence us and ultimately erase our very being,” Robinson said. “We are ready to take these extremists head on. We are greater than all of their hate.”