LGBTQ+ Youth Wield Significant Power in the Upcoming Elections

As pro-equality voters around the country prepare for the legislative and political challenges ahead in 2024, young LGBTQ+ people are uniquely positioned to become a powerhouse for equality for years to come. With over 2,200 LGBTQ+ Americans turning 18 every day, young LGBTQ+ people and allies hold great capability to help defeat hate, discrimination and bigotry at the polls.

The electoral power and prowess of young LGBTQ+ people and allies are a force for change. And with record levels of anti-LGBTQ+ attacks continuing in state legislatures and Congress in 2024, compounded with the potential return to power of an extremist and authoritarian ex-president, this change can’t come fast enough. That is why the Human Rights Campaign has invested, and will continue to invest, in strategically engaging, empowering and mobilizing young LGBTQ+ people and allies to participate in our campaigning and organizing efforts for pro-equality candidates and ballot measures in this year’s election.

MAGA extremists are not at war with our freedoms because they think we are powerless to stop them. They are at war with our freedoms because they fear how powerful we already are. And that power is growing every day as young LGBTQ+ people harness the power of their vote. The power of LGBTQ+ people to impact elections and reshape the future is undeniable, with the LGBTQ+ voting bloc projected to surge in coming years, nearing one in five voters by 2040.

Geoff Wetrosky, HRC’s vice president of national campaigns


Visit Sponsor Site


Embracing Today and Tomorrow's LGBTQ+ Workers and Customers



The Projected Growth of the LGBTQ+ Voting Bloc in Coming Years


Hundreds of anti-LGBTQ+ bills have already been filed in dozens of state legislatures so far this year, many of which directly threaten the lives of young trans and non-binary people by outlawing access to age-appropriate, gender-affirming health care. Additionally, some state bills aim to silence and erase LGBTQ+ voices and stories by censoring educational content in public schools.

To help mobilize young LGBTQ+ people to contest these bills and make clear to lawmakers that there will be repercussions in November for anti-LGBTQ+ political attacks, HRC has been coordinating and strategizing with youth-led organizations such as Queer Youth Assemble. Reg Calcagno, HRC’s national campaign director, said that these kinds of efforts are essential to make clear to anti-LGBTQ+ politicians that “the future is now.”

Youth-serving organizations we work with and other young LGBTQ+ people, like HRC Foundation's youth ambassadors, are the future. Groups like Queer Youth Assemble have been instrumental in fighting back against bad legislation, and they are all about holding anti-LGBTQ+ lawmakers accountable for their actions. When someone is elected to office, they are charged with representing everyone, regardless of age. Young LGBTQ+ people and their allies are ready, willing and able to mobilize during elections to ensure the candidates who have their best interests at heart get into office.

Reg Calcagno, HRC’s national campaign director

Calcagno said that while HRC has helped provide strategies and tools for youth-led organizations to organize and mobilize against anti-LGBTQ+ legislative efforts and attacks, it is them, LGBTQ+ youth, that truly hold the power.

“LGBTQ+ youth played, and will continue to play, a much larger role in our organizing and response to terrible legislation advancing around the country, “said Calcagno. “It’s important to note that while HRC has supported efforts from groups like QYA, it’s the youth that are leading these efforts. We provide resources and our guidance, but they largely own these efforts.”

Eris (they/them), an 18-year-old nonbinary, Black queer youth and part of HRC Foundation’s Youth Ambassadors cohort, said that when it comes to getting LGBTQ+ youth to engage in election efforts, such as voter registration and education, “something is better than nothing.”

“Every action we take toward progress and the equality movement all adds up into something great,” said Eris. “Queer people of voting age need to be aware that over 400+ pieces of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation were introduced this January alone. When we rise up in collective action and vote, we have the power to change who represents us and has the authority to create legislation that promotes liberation and equality.”


Visit Sponsor Site

Ted Lewis, director of the Human Right Campaign Foundation’s Youth and Family program, said that while it is important to arm LGBTQ+ youth with the right resources and tools for them to advocate for themselves and their communities, it is still important to acknowledge that they are young people with much at stake.

“The avalanche of state bills that harm LGBTQ+ youth could very likely be elevated to a national level based on the outcome of this coming election, so the stakes for LGBTQ+ youth are extremely high,” said Lewis. “At the same time, youth have to balance their engagement in activism with the hateful poisonous rhetoric of our opposition that can have a damaging impact on the mental health and well-being of LGBTQ+ youth, particularly transgender youth. In this current toxic political landscape, adult allies can support youth by showing up with them, providing care and mental health resources and providing safe and affirming ways to stay engaged in the political process.”

According to Lewis, who works closely with LGBTQ+ youth through the HRC Foundation's Youth Ambassadors program, LGBTQ+ youth are “very aware of the stakes of the upcoming election.”

“They see it every day, whether through witnessing the oppression of their peers, or being victimized by the anti-LGBTQ+ bills themselves,” said Lewis. “They feel alone, confused and vulnerable. The best way adult allies can support them are by advocating for them in the classrooms, school board meetings and legislatively. Youth need to know that they’re not fighting these battles alone. Having adult allies that stand behind them during these tumultuous times makes all the difference.”


9 in 10 are proud to be part of the LGBTQ+ community
1 in 4 wish they weren’t LGBTQ+
1 in 3 feel depressed when they think about being LGBTQ+
4 in 10 feel critical about themselves when they think about being LGBTQ+
6 in 10 report being teased, bullied, or treated badly at school for at least one reason
Half report feeling unsafe in at least one school setting


81% want to go to college
29% fear their LGBTQ+ identity will negatively affect college/higher ed experience
76.8% (three quarters) want to be out/open about their LGBTQ+ identity at their future jobs
43% (four in ten) think their identity may negatively affect their career
69.2% (two-thirds) are afraid they will be discriminated at work due to their LGBTQ+ identity


Visit Sponsor Site

According to the HRC Foundation’s 2023 Youth Report, nine in 10 LGBTQ+ youth are proud to be part of the LGBTQ+ community. However, one in four wish they weren’t LGBTQ+, while one in three feel depressed when they think about being LGBTQ+. Furthermore, four in 10 feel critical about themselves when they think about being LGBTQ+. This juxtaposition clearly illustrates that LGBTQ+ youth are able to accept and embrace who they are, but the world around them has not caught up and continues to be unwelcoming at best, and hostile at worst.

“Anti-LGBTQ+ bills, even if they don’t pass, have a negative impact on the mental health and feelings of self-worth for LGBTQ+ youth,” said Lewis. “Already, six in 10 of LGBTQ+ youth report being teased, bullied or treated badly at school for at least one reason. Half of LGBTQ+ youth report feeling unsafe in at least one school setting. Youth are concerned that they are being erased through curriculum censorship, book bans, bans on gender-affirming care and more. They are concerned not only by the hatred and misinformation that is fueling anti-LGBTQ+ bills, but also the rising hateful rhetoric that puts them at danger from violence for simply being themselves.”

For these reasons, Lewis said, it is important for older LGBTQ+ people and allies to continue to demonstrate our unyielding support for LGBTQ+ youth.

As LGBTQ+ young people prepare themselves for the upcoming legislative fights, Calcagno said that it is important for the LGBTQ+ community at large to remember that “our community possesses tremendous political power,” something that Wetrosky says is crucial as the nation decides on its future.

“A small handful of battleground states and congressional districts will determine who is in the White House and who controls Congress after this year’s election, and nearly every one of these key states and districts will be decided by the smallest of margins. By not only showing up to vote, but also doing everything they can between now and November to support pro-equality candidates, LGBTQ+ voters, and especially young LGBTQ+ voters, have the potential to permanently transform and reshape politics in the United States for years to come,” said Wetrosky. “It’s the only way we’ll be able to build a future where everyone can be free and comfortable to be their authentic selves.”