State legislators introduced a record 315 bills last year attacking LGBTQ+ people, particularly transgender youth
Alabama passed the most anti-transgender legislative package in history last year
Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, and the Equality Federation Institute released their 9th annual State Equality Index (SEI). The SEI is a comprehensive state-by-state report that provides a review of statewide laws and policies that affect LGBTQ+ people and their families.
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. 24 pro-equality bills were also passed into law: these range in topic from making it easier to update drivers licenses and birth and death certificates with correct names and gender markers; to banning insurance exclusions for healthcare for transgender individuals; to expanding non-discrimination protections in housing, employment and education. All ensure that LGBTQ+ people are able to take one step closer to full legal and lived equality.
Last year also marked the passage of the most anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-transgender legislation in recent history. During the final hours of their legislative session, Alabama lawmakers passed a sweeping package of discriminatory bills that contained a number of anti-LGBTQ+ measures, the worst of which criminalized parents for providing gender-affirming care for their transgender children, barred transgender children from using bathrooms and locker rooms that aligned with their gender identity, and censored classroom discussions on LGBTQ+ issues.
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. Anti-transgender legislation took several forms, including 80 bills aimed to prevent transgender youth from playing school sports consistent with their gender identity and 42 bills to prevent transgender and non-binary youth from receiving life-saving, medically-necessary gender-affirming healthcare. By the end of the 2022 legislative session, a record 17 bills attacking transgender and non-binary children passed into law. 19 states exclude transgender athletes in school sports and 5 states restrict access to gender-affirming healthcare.
Although members of the transgender and non-binary community were the primary targets of the discriminatory legislation, anti-LGBTQ+ bills took other forms as well. One of the most notable trends was a resurgence of curriculum censorship and “Don’t Say LGBTQ+” bills that turn back the clock and restrict teachers from discussing LGBTQ+ issues and other marginalized communities in their classrooms. Across the country, 70 curriculum censorship bills were filed and 7 passed into law.
The SEI’s assessment of statewide LGBTQ+-related legislation and policies in the areas of parenting laws and policies, religious refusal and relationship recognition laws, non-discrimination laws and policies, hate crime and criminal justice laws, youth-related laws and policies and health and safety laws and policies has placed each state in one of four distinct categories based on the type of advocacy that takes place there:
20 states and the District of Columbia are in the highest-rated category, “Working Toward Innovative Equality”: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.
5 states are in the category “Solidifying Equality”: Alaska, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Wisconsin.
2 states are in the category “Building Equality”: North Dakota and Kentucky.
23 states are in the lowest-rated category “High Priority to Achieve Basic Equality”: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Wisconsin and Kentucky joined the “Solidifying Equality” and “Building Equality” categories, respectively, this year.
HRC Foundation’s full State Equality Index report, including detailed scorecards for every state, and a preview of the 2023 state legislative session is available online at www.hrc.org/sei.
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