The year 2023 is a record-breaking one for anti-LGBTQ legislation. In the first three months of 2023, at least 385 bills have been introduced at the state level—more than double the number of anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in the entirety of 2022.
Recent iterations of these bills look like, but are not limited to, attempting to ban or criminalize drag (in at least 9 states), prohibiting transgender people from using bathrooms, allowing for religious refusal of services, censoring classroom language, banning books on LGBTQ subjects or narratives, and denying gender-affirming care to trans youth (no fewer than 20 bills).
The LGBTQ community deserves the freedom to live freely, without the fear of discrimination and criminalization. In a survey by the Trevor Project, researchers found that LGBTQ youth who experienced anti-queer bigotry attempted suicide at higher rates, but were far less likely to do so if they lived in an accepting community, had access to LGBTQ-affirming spaces, and/or felt high social support from family and friends.
Sign the petition: LGBTQ people need legislation to prevent from discrimination in every state.
Some states like Michigan are getting it right. In early March, Michigan’s legislative chambers passed the bipartisan Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (SB4). This legislation would expand the state's nondiscrimination protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity. Eight Republicans joined Democrats in support of this bill.
Michigan set a national example, and its efforts mark the first time in three years that any state has passed nondiscrimination protections. But currently, 28 other states do not have laws explicitly protecting the LGBTQ community from discrimination.
While these states are mostly Republican-led or battleground states, introducing non-discrimination protections into state legislatures sends a clear message to LGBTQ communities in those states that legislators are holding the line against hate-fueled policies, and are actively working to protect LGBTQ communities and not waiting until it is politically convenient to do so.
The work to pass this legislation in Michigan started over a year ago at a time when Democrats did not have a trifecta in the state legislature.
State-based advocacy organizations focused on promoting LGBTQ rights stand ready to work with other state legislatures to promote the passage of non-discrimination protections and build a pipeline for future collaboration to mitigate and remedy harm to the LGBTQ community. This work will not happen overnight, but it must be a priority for states that do not have current similar protections.
Sign the petition: States should fight anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and codify non-discrimination protections into law.