Frankfort, Kentucky – Today, the Kentucky Senate advanced Senate Bill 115, an anti-LGBTQ+ bill that restricts drag performances. This bill bans many drag performances from taking place on any public property in the state, as well as in any location where people under 18 could be present.
The dangerous practice of banning LGBTQ+ events, spaces, and culture – including drag performances – is part of a large-scale attack on the LGBTQ+ community and an attempt to put LGBTQ+ people, particularly transgender and non-binary people, back in the closet and labeled as dangerous.
Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow released the following statement:
“Many drag performances – such as Drag Queen story hours at schools and libraries – are age appropriate for all audience members and can teach important lessons like acceptance and openness. This is just another example of extremist politicians in Kentucky spreading propaganda and creating more stigma, discrimination, and ultimately violence against transgender and 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 SB 115 and urges the lawmakers behind this and other anti-LGBTQ+ bills to stop attacking our community and instead focus on real issues impacting Kentuckians.”
Nearly 1 in 5 of any type of hate crime is now motivated by anti-LGBTQ+ bias and the last two years have been the deadliest for transgender people, especially Black transgender women, we have seen since we began tracking fatal violence against the community. Reports of violence and intimidation against LGBTQ+ people have been making news across the country – with white nationalists targeting a Pride event in Idaho and Proud Boys crashing Drag Queen story hours at local libraries to shout homophobic and transphobic slurs. Finally, anti-LGBTQ+ stigma also drives alarmingly high rates of depression, anxiety and suicide. 45% of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, but LGBTQ+ youth who have at least one accepting adult in their life were 40% less likely to attempt suicide.
So far in 2023, HRC is tracking more than 425 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been introduced in statehouses across the country. More than 175 of those would specifically restrict the rights of transgender people, the highest number of bills targeting transgender people in a single year to date.
So far this year, HRC is tracking:
More than 100 bills that would prevent trans youth from being able to access age-appropriate, medically-necessary, best-practice health care; four have already become law, in Tennessee, Mississippi, South Dakota, and Utah,
More bathroom ban bills filed than in any previous year,
More than 80 curriculum censorship bills and 30 anti-drag performance bills.
In a coordinated push led by national anti-LGBTQ+ groups, which deployed vintage discriminatory tropes, politicians in statehouses across the country introduced 315 discriminatory anti-LGBTQ+ bills in 2022 and 29 passed into law. Despite this, fewer than 10% of these efforts succeeded. The majority of the discriminatory bills – 149 bills – targeted the transgender and non-binary community, with the majority targeting children receiving the brunt of discriminatory legislation. By the end of the 2022 legislative session, a record 17 bills attacking transgender and non-binary children passed into law.
Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in 2022 took several forms, including:
80 bills aimed to prevent transgender youth from playing school sports consistent with their gender identity. 19 states now exclude transgender athletes in school sports.
42 bills to prevent transgender and non-binary youth from receiving life-saving, medically-necessary gender-affirming healthcare. 5 states now restrict access to gender-affirming care.
70 curriculum censorship bills tried to turn back the clock and restrict teachers from discussing LGBTQ+ issues and other marginalized communities in their classrooms. 7 passed into law.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
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