2021 was the worst year in modern history for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, and the 2022 state legislative sessions are shaping up to be more of the same. Unfortunately just a few weeks into this year’s sessions, we’re already tracking more than 200 anti-LGBTQ+ equality bills and the number keeps growing.
Last year, extremist groups launched a relentless, coordinated attack on our community in state legislatures across the country. Most of this harmful legislation targeted the transgender community, specifically trans kids - excluding them from sports, prohibiting them from using school bathrooms, preventing them from accessing life-saving medical care. Despite the onslaught of bad bills, alongside our members and partners on the ground, in 2021 HRC successfully defeated 90% of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. There were also 44 pro-equality state laws enacted last year.
A bright spot of the 2021 legislative sessions were the individuals and organizations who spoke out against the onslaught of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. Countless people testified at committee hearings, rallied at state capitols, wrote letters to lawmakers, and organized locally in the battle against these harmful bills. They are all heroes in our battle for LGBTQ+ equality in the states.
Doctors and other medical care professionals spoke out against anti-trans medical care bills and urged lawmakers not to intrude on private medical decisions. In North Carolina, over 400 medical providers signed a letter advocating against the state’s slate of bills attacking trans youth.
Of course, some of the most compelling stories came from trans kids themselves. We met Rebekah, a 14-year-old girl who loves reading and playing field hockey, but wouldn’t be able to keep playing with her team if her state passed an anti-trans sports ban.
Our community sent a resounding message that we will never back down in the fight for full LGBTQ+ equality.
Our opponents have found a formula that works with a set of recycled talking points that aim to sow fear and division. Many states are entering into the second year of a two-year legislative cycle. While we prepare for lawmakers to introduce new anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, there is also a likelihood stalled bills from last year could resurface. We know consequential decisions are made at the state level — now is the time for us all to stay engaged and stay vigilant.
Although anti-LGBTQ+ legislation can take many forms, there are a few common types of bills extremist lawmakers continue to push forward.
These bans require youth to participate in sports according to their gender assigned at birth. The bans would block trans youth from participating on teams that align with their gender identity and bar them from the friendship, teamwork, and health benefits of playing a sport.
Passed into law: AL, AR, FL, ID, MS, MT, SD, TN, TX, WV
These bans criminalize the evidence-based, private, life-saving care plans created by teams of medical healthcare experts, parents and guardians, and transgender youth. Legislators are rejecting best-practice, medically necessary care recommendations from doctors in order to push discrimination.
Passed into law: AR
Our opponents are trying to reframe religion as a weapon against LGBTQ+ people. These bills allow individuals and organizations to refuse services to LGBTQ+ people under the guise of religion.
Passed into law: AR, OH, MT, SD
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While we’re fully prepared to continue our fight against these anti-LGBTQ+ bills and others, we’re excited to fight for pro-equality legislation across the country, too. HB 1467, in Mississippi, would update the state’s hate crime protections to include gender identity and sexual orientation. In Puerto Rico, SB 136 would provide non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ Puerto Ricans. We have hope for these bills because despite the onslaught of bad legislation in 2021, 43 pro-equality laws were passed last year.
Despite some states continuing to push an anti-LGBTQ+ agenda, we know that most people across the country support LGBTQ+ equality. Over 150 companies have signed a letter opposing harmful legislation aimed at restricting the access of LGBTQ+ people in society. Nationwide polling data shows a majority of people favor laws that protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in jobs, public accommodations and housing. Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is widely unpopular, and history is on the side of equality.
2022 will be a consequential year for LGBTQ+ children, parents, families and communities everywhere. We must defeat the discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ+ agenda being pushed through state legislatures. HRC is committed to working with our partners on the ground to tackle these bills and continuing to progress LGBTQ+ equality in every state. We need everyone in this fight with us.