Joe Biden to sign urgent executive order to combat swathe of cruel anti-LGBTQ+ bills
US president Joe Biden is to sign an executive order to fight the unprecedented wave of anti-LGBTQ+ bills being spewed by Republican state legislatures.
The order will direct federal agencies to, among other things, expand access to gender-affirming healthcare, deliver inclusive curriculums and stamp out queer homelessness, according to a White House fact sheet.
Curbing conversion therapy is also top of the agenda. Officials will work to ensure no federal funds are used to offer the “dangerous” practice and survivors of conversion therapy will be offered more support. The Federal Trade Commission will consider whether conversion therapy is an “unfair or deceptive act” and should come with consumer warnings.
“President Biden always stands up to bullies and that’s what these extreme MAGA laws and policies do — they bully kids,” a senior administration official told reporters in a briefing on Wednesday (15 June).
“Hateful, discriminatory laws that target children are out of line with where the American people are, and president Biden is going to use his executive authority to protect kids and families.”
Hundreds of bills attacking everything from trans youth’s access to life-saving medical care to drag shows have been launched by the GOP this year, according to legislative tracker Freedom for All Americans.
By March, more than 160 bills had been introduced. And many more have come since, targeting trans people using bathrooms and taking part in school sports and preventing kids from hearing the word “gay” in classrooms.
In an effort to reign in the Republican states, Biden’s order will create a new federal committee to lead data-gathering efforts to give officials clearer insight into LGBTQ+ demographics in the States. A much-needed move considering more Americans say they are LGBTQ+ than ever before.
Among the other pledges, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will release new guidance on how states can better protect LGBTQ+ families and youth from attacks against their healthcare. Hurdles will be torn down when it comes to LGBTQ+ people accessing mental health care, reproductive health care, and HIV prevention and treatment.
The HHS will also improve suicide prevention resources for queer youth – 45 per cent of queer young people have considered suicide the crisis intervention charity The Trevor Project says. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service will also release new guidance for states to offer “evidence-informed mental healthcare” for LGBTQ+ youth.
The Department of Education will study the impacts of state laws – such as Florida’s cruel ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill – on queer young people and draft policies to ensure schools are a safe place for them.
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Considering that LGBTQ+ people are twice more likely to experience homelessness, the Department of Housing and Urban Development will look into the barriers to housing the community faces. Housing providers are to receive new advice on serving LGBTQ+ folk and grants to break down housing barriers.
Older queer people will soon see increased protections from the HHS-issued “Bill of Rights for LGBTQI+ Older Adults” and be included as among those of “greatest social need” under the Older Americans Act.
The US remains a patchwork of states where three in 10 LGBTQ+ people live in a state that offers no laws banning conversion therapy, according to the Movement Advancement Project. But the HHS will work to raise awareness of the tortuous practice nationwide.
The sprawling decree comes after Biden blasted the onslaught of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation that has left families in “fear and pain”.
In a proclamation recognising Pride Month in May, Biden once again called on Congress to, at long last, pass the Equality Act to “enshrine long overdue civil rights protections” into law and “build a better future for all LGBTQI+ Americans”.
While the law was smoothly passed by the House of Representatives in 2021, it has stalled in the Senate ever since. Gathering dust, the bill faces an uphill battle of not only drawing a majority vote, but enough needed to overcome the filibuster.
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