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LGBTQ State Equality Index Ratings

During a year when state legislators have introduced a record 315 bills attacking our LGBTQ community particularly our transgender youth, the 9th annual State Equality Index (SEI) has been released by HRC & the Equality Federation Institute. JoDee Winterhof, Human Rights Campaign Senior Vice President of Policy & Political Affairs stated, “The 2022 State Equality Index outlines how states across the country fought back against yet another record year of anti-LGBTQ+ legislative attacks. In the face of these attacks, legislators & advocates fought back, with fewer than 10% of the anti-LGBTQ+ discriminatory bills introduced passing into law. These bills are terrible public policy & we are also deeply cognizant of how every harmful anti-LGBTQ+ bill that is signed into law has a devastating impact on the lives & well-being of LGBTQ+ people, particularly children. The legislative assault & hateful rhetoric towards our community has also led to more stigma, discrimination & ultimately, suicide & deadly violence – particularly against the transgender community. As we continue our fight for LGBTQ+ equality, this report underscores that equality is the winning side of this issue.” Fran Hutchins, Executive Director of the Equality Federation Institute concluded, “As the 2022 State Equality Index shows, last year saw a continuation of the recent dramatic explosion of legislation targeting transgender people, especially transgender youth, exploiting myths & misunderstandings about what it means to be transgender. Despite the increasing number of bills filed nationwide, advocates & activists on the ground were able to beat back the majority of this legislation. We know the mere introduction & discussion of these bills further fuels anti-LGBTQ+ stigma nationwide, resulting in violence against our community. It’s more important than ever to focus our attention on protecting LGBTQ+ people in the states, where the work is hard, but the impact is great.” 

Florida Proposes New Firearm Carry Bill

Florida House Speaker Paul Renner has announced the filing of HB 543 a bill that will remove training & permitting requirements for concealed carry of firearms in the state. The move comes nearly 7 years after 49 mostly LGBTQ people of color were murdered in the tragedy at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando & just a few weeks before the 5th anniversary of the murder of 17 people at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland with firearm-related injuries being the #1 cause of death for American children. Brandon Wolf, Equality Florida Press Secretary & Pulse Nightclub Survivor stated, "Let's be clear-eyed: the filing of permitless carry in Florida is an endorsement of violent hate & an insult to those who have had loved ones stolen in America's gun violence epidemic. LGBTQ Floridians know all too well that this country's obsession with easy access to deadly weapons can take discrimination & bigotry & make it lethal. Gun violence is not abstract or hypothetical -- it is stealing our loved ones. Instead of stripping away commonsense safety precautions like background checks & proficiency training, the legislature should be focused on ways to keep Floridians safe. If passed, permitless carry will cost lives." Since the attack at Pulse Nightclub Equality Florida publicly pledged to support common sense gun safety reforms with a demonstrated record of reducing gun deaths. In 2021 marking 5 years since the tragedy Equality Florida joined Everytown For Gun Safety, the Human Rights Campaign & the Equality Federation in producing the Remembering & Honoring Pulse report a comprehensive overview of the impacts of gun violence on LGBTQ people in America. 

Gender Affirming Care Ban In Utah

It looks bleak for minors from receiving gender-affirming surgeries in Utah as the Utah Senate approved a bill Friday that would bar & place an indefinite moratorium on their access to puberty blockers & hormone therapy. Governor Spencer Cox who vetoed a restriction on transgender student athletes last year said he has no plans to veto this new bill. Marina Lowe, Policy Director for Equality Utah stated, “This is essentially a ban on access to medical care for transgender youth. Everywhere where one has been passed, there is litigation because it’s the government stepping in between parents & children & their doctors.” Last week the House committee was packed with hundreds of people who rallied on the steps of the Utah Capitol in support of Utah’s transgender youth. Several teens who identified as trans spoke to the committee urging lawmakers to not restrict their access to treatments that they say saved them from suicide. Troy Williams, Executive Director of Equality Utah added, “We just want parents of transgender children to know that we see you. We are so grateful for the love & compassion that you have for your children & thank you for loving them. We will continue to fight for your family as well.” Sue Robbins, Equality Utah’s Transgender Advisory Council concluded, “We’ll never be done fighting for transgender kids. You deserve everything. We will fix this.” In the past year there have been over 149 bills targeting our transgender & non-binary community with a record 17 bills attacking transgender & non-binary children passed into law. 

FDA Proposes Blood Donation Changes

The FDA has proposed changes to blood donation policies. The new guidelines would focus on sexual behaviors by any prospective donor regardless of gender or sexual orientation. The FDA is expected to adopt the proposal after a 60-day public comment period. Sarah Kate Ellis, President & CEO of GLAAD stated, “These changes are 40-plus years in the making & are a tremendous leap forward toward elevating science over stigma. GLAAD & leading medical experts have long been advocating for guidelines that see & treat LGBTQ people the same as any other person, including as potential donors who want to help others. The announcement will ease historic discrimination against LGBTQ Americans, help alleviate the national blood shortage & opens the door for all eligible LGBTQ people to give blood & save lives. The U.S. moves closer to joining the growing list of countries that already welcome blood donations from gay & bi men without restrictions. LGBTQ leaders will continue to advocate until the FDA enacts those science-based, safe & stigma-free guidelines.” Jose Abrigo Lambda Legal HIV Project Director concluded, “It should be noted however, that much more work needs to be done to follow the science…We must be conscious to not further stigmatize these safe sex practices & uplift individuals taking precautions. With the national blood shortage, everyone should be given equal opportunity to help their neighbors & save lives. Unfortunately, these proposed measures don’t fully achieve that. We applaud the CDC for taking these welcome first steps & look forward to working with them to improve this proposed regulation & to continue to destigmatize & equalize blood donations." 

Pope Decriminalizing Gay Relationships

Pope Francis has called out for worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality which makes him the first Pope to ever take such a stance. Pope Francis stated, “Being homosexual is not a crime. It’s a human condition. It’s not a crime. Yes, but it’s a sin. Fine, but first let’s distinguish between a sin & a crime. It’s also a sin to lack charity with one another.” Before this tumbles down a new rabbit hole let’s reflect a bit. Though there has been great progress on our LGBTQ issues in this country & around the world the hatred of our LGBTQ community continues & one of the main reasons is that LGBTQ relationships still remain a sin in religious institutions. Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President & CEO stated, “Pope Francis denounced laws in nearly 70 countries that criminalize LGBTQ people & called on the Roman Catholic Church to take an active role in repealing those laws. His historic statement should send a message to world leaders & millions of Catholics around the world: LGBTQ people deserve to live in a world without violence & condemnation & more kindness & understanding…Today’s statements from Pope Francis are a game changer in the fight to decriminalize LGBTQ people & also illustrate the work that needs to be done with religious leaders to finally show that being LGBTQ is not a sin.” Marianne Duddy-Burke, DignityUSA’s Executive Director concluded, “It is critical that the church’s bishops immediately end any support they have given to laws that make being gay or same-sex relationships illegal. We also call on Catholics in our own country & around the world to support equality & non-violence for their LGBTQIA+ neighbors.” 

Arkansas Restrictive Drag Bill Advances

The Arkansas Senate has advanced Senate Bill 43 an anti-LGBTQ bill that restricts drag performances. The bill would classify drag performances as “adult-oriented businesses'' & ban them from taking place on public property as well as other locations where children & teenagers are present. The bill passed 29-6 & will now be sent to the Arkansas House for consideration. Eric Reece, Human Rights Campaign Arkansas State Director stated, “Many drag performances – such as Drag Queen story hours at schools & libraries – are age appropriate for children & can teach important lessons like acceptance & openness. This is just another example of radical politicians in Arkansas spreading propaganda & creating more stigma, discrimination & ultimately violence against transgender & non-binary people just to rile up extreme members of their base, the only voting bloc they are moving on these issues. The Human Rights Campaign strongly opposes Senate Bill 43 & urges the lawmakers behind them to stop attacking our community & instead focus on real issues impacting Arkansans.” This is all part of a large-scale attack on our LGBTQ community & an attempt to put LGBTQ people particularly transgender & non-binary people back in the closet & labeled as dangerous. Politicians in state houses across the country have introduced a record 315 discriminatory anti-LGBTQ bills in the past year including bills aimed to prevent transgender youth from playing school sports consistent with their gender identity & bills to prevent transgender & non-binary youth from receiving life-saving, medically-necessary gender-affirming healthcare. This is all happening as nearly 1 in 5 of any type of hate crime is now motivated by anti-LGBTQ bias. 

Call For Book Bans In Massachusetts

Let’s be perfectly clear about censorship in our school libraries. Book bans are taking place across the country specifically aimed to remove books that are by & about LGBTQ people, communities of color & other marginalized groups & Massachusetts is no exception. There has been a rise in calls by a vocal minority in the Commonwealth for schools to remove library books from their shelves. The ACLU & GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) have sent a letter urging Massachusetts public school districts to protect students’ legal rights by rejecting censorship in school libraries. Carol Rose, Executive Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts sated, “Across the country, there is a coordinated attack on students’ right to learn. Book bans in school & public libraries—places that are central to our abilities to explore ideas, encounter new perspectives & learn to think for ourselves—are misguided attempts to try to suppress that right. We applaud the communities that have resisted such attempts in Massachusetts & call on schools to protect all children’s access to an equal & safe education.” Mary L. Bonauto, Senior Director of Civil Rights & Legal Strategies at GLAD concluded, “We are witnessing an organized, targeted campaign across the country to ban books centered on people of color & LGBTQ+ people & it is students who are being harmed. Parents & school officials in many communities have come together to resist these censorship efforts because they understand access to a diversity of books & ideas is fundamental to growth & learning. Our laws protect students’ rights to access books in which they can both see themselves & their families reflected and can engage with different perspectives and different people in the world around them & our communities are all better off for it.” 

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LGBTQ State Equality Index Ratings

During a year when state legislators have introduced a record 315 bills attacking our LGBTQ community particularly our transgender youth, th...

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