The nation’s largest LGBTQ lobbying group declared Tuesday a national state of emergency for LGBTQ people, an unprecedented move in the group’s 43-year history that comes amid countrywide controversy surrounding gender identity discussions in classrooms and the passage of numerous bills aimed at restricting transgender healthcare.
In a press release, the Human Rights Campaign (H.R.C.), based in Washington, D.C., said its emergency declaration was triggered by “a dizzying patchwork of discriminatory state laws” and an avalanche of legislation aimed at curtailing LGBTQ civil rights.
“During this legislative session, there have been over 525 state bills introduced that attack the LGBTQ+ community, and over 220 of those target the transgender community,” wrote Kelley Robinson, the president of the H.R.C. Ms. Robinson takes specific aim at Republican politicians, including Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, and Christian-led organizations like the Family Policy Alliance and the Alliance Defending Freedom, both of which strongly oppose same-sex marriage and transgender inclusion.
Outreach editor James Martin, S.J., wrote that the emergency declaration “simply confirms what LGBTQ people and their families and friends have known for some time: that our country has become, in the last few years, increasingly intolerant to the presence of LGBTQ people. Essentially, hate has become normalized.”
A detailed report from the H.R.C. on anti-LGBTQ bills introduced across the country provides a summary of legal efforts to prohibit drag performances, restrict transgender participation in sports, ban surgical interventions and hormone therapies for transgender persons and compel schools to “out” LGBTQ children to their parents.
The report also cites an increase in anti-LGBTQ legislation over the past eight years, culminating in gender-affirming care restrictions in 20 states. “Three in ten … trans youth aged 13-17 live in states that have passed bans on gender-affirming care,” said the H.R.C. earlier this month.
In Florida, where Governor DeSantis has made anti-LGBTQ policy proposals a key part of his political platform, some trans persons are fleeing the state after it restricted transgender medical care. Last March, Florida legally prohibited the discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation in public schools through what critics labeled as the “Don’t Say Gay” law.
The law’s passage sparked protests and condemnations by LGBTQ advocacy groups and numerous businesses, including Starbucks, Target, Nordstrom and The Walt Disney Company.
In April, Disney sued Governor DeSantis after Florida lawmakers enacted a series of “hostile measures” due to the company’s opposition to the anti-LGBTQ bill. The H.R.C. and Equality Florida, a statewide LGBTQ rights group, issued a travel advisory last month warning LGBTQ people to exercise caution if traveling to the state.
Carl Siciliano, the Catholic founder and former executive director of New York’s Ali Forney Center, which serves LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness, told Outreach about a conversation he had yesterday with other LGBTQ leaders. “The conversation soon became focused on the hatred and threats of violence directed against queer people, and especially trans people,” he wrote. “We were unanimous in our perception that it has never been so bad in our lifetimes.”
“The anti-LGBTQ sentiment has been rising, unchecked, for several years now,” wrote Ross Murray, the vice president of GLAAD Media Institute. “We are finally at a point when we can no longer avoid it or pretend it doesn’t exist.”
These sentiments were echoed by Jean-Marie Navetta, the director of learning and inclusion at PFLAG National. “For those of us in the LGBTQ+ community, and the allies who are paying attention, we already knew that we were in a state of emergency,” she wrote to Outreach. “The question we face is this: What are people going to do to stop this?”