“We’re in a battle for the soul of the nation,” Biden said after signing an order aimed to protect LGBTQ+ youth and families against state-level legislative attacks.
June is Pride Month in the United States, a month created to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan and to celebrate the history of, and center the needs of the LGBTQ+ community. This year, like all years, Pride month is a joyous celebration, but the reality is that LGBTQ+ Americans and their kids have been under increasing attack by GOP lawmakers who would aim to limit the rights of kids, and their parents. Instead of passing sweeping protections for the community, states have passed hundreds of bills that target queer and trans people — kids and adults — and literally put their lives in danger, from banning medical care to kicking trans children out of sports.
As the anti-LGBTQ+ bills continue to be legislated across many states, President Joe Biden took action through an executive order on Wednesday, June 15th in an attempt to help protect the rights and safety of Americans. Here’s what you need to know.
"We’re in a battle for the soul of the nation," the president said at the signing ceremony. "And when I look around this room here and at all of you here today, it's a battle I know we will win."
On June 15, the Biden administration announced a new executive order which will direct education agencies and federal health agencies to expand access to gender-affirming care, a move seen as a direct rebuke of states that have begun to criminalize gender-affirming medical care, care that is accepted by every major medical community as life-saving and necessary. The order also directs the agencies to advance LTBTQ+-inclusive learning environments in schools across the country.
The executive order covers four key issues affecting LGBTQ+ families at a time when a record number of anti-LGBTA+ bills were introduced this year. According to the Human Rights Campaign, there have been more than 320 bills introduced so far this year. The executive order puts some protections in place at a federal level.
Biden signed an executive order aimed to increase support and protection for LTBTQ+ youth and adults.
Addressing legislation that’s discriminatory toward LGBTQ+ families and children: the order directs agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Education to protect families and kids from attacks on healthcare access and by increasing inclusivity.
Preventing “conversion” therapy: the order directs the HHS to lead an initiative to reduce the risk of youth exposure to this form of “therapy” which has been proven to be incredibly harmful to LGBTQ+ kids. Conversion therapy has been rejected by every major medical and psychological organization for decades because it is harmful and dangerous. The agency will also be directed to increase awareness of the dangers of conversion therapy.
Safeguarding programs and health care to prevent youth suicide: the order directs the HHS to address barriers that limit families’ access to comprehensive, affordable, quality health care, including mental health supports, reproductive care, and HIV prevention and treatment. In addition, the HHS will be charged with expanding resources and support to reduce LGBTQ+ youth suicide rates.
Additional supports for LGBTQ+ families and youth: this includes protections for foster youth, homelessness prevention, and resources for parents whose child has come out as LGBTQ+.
The order also covers protections for older LGBTQI+ people who face discrimination and will move to update data collection on sexual orientation and gender identity at the federal level.
Amit Paley, CEO of The Trevor Project, spoke about the executive order yesterday praising the new protections. “It is especially powerful to see this executive order advance many of The TrevorProject's top advocacy priorities at a time when LGBTQ youth face a record wave of anti-LGBTQ political attacks in states across the U.S,” he wrote in a tweet. “This executive order will help save young LGBTQ lives.”