- President Joe Biden will sign an executive order on Wednesday to offer new initiatives for the LGBT+ community.
- Biden’s order asks the Department of Health and Human Services to develop sample policies for states on how to expand access to comprehensive health care for LGBT+ patients.
- The move comes as at least 20 states have passed anti-LGBT laws in recent months.
WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden signed an executive order Wednesday aimed at supporting members of the LGBTQ+ community whose rights, he said, are increasingly under attack.
“My message to all young people: just be you,” Biden said at a rainbow-colored event at the White House that was part of a Pride Month celebration. “I want you to know that as your president, all of us on this stage have your back.”
Biden was introduced by Javier Gomez, an 18-year-old Floridian who helped organize student walkouts across the state over the Parents’ Rights in Education Act signed into law by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in March. Dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by critics, the legislation prohibits teachers from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity between kindergarten and third grade.
Gomez said the “hateful legislation” means students won’t be able to get the kind of support she got from her fifth-grade teacher when she was trying to figure out her identity.
At least 20 states have passed measures related to gender-affirming health care, sports participation or discussion of LGBTQ issues in schools, according to the Movement Advancement Project, an independent think tank in Boulder, Colorado.
Jenny Pizer, interim legal director at Lambda Legal, said Biden’s actions clarify what actions are not allowed and show the administration is heeding laws like the one in Florida and a state order in Texas to investigate families of transgender children. who have received confirmation of medical care.
“Having more clarity from the federal government and attention from the federal government can reinforce to state actors,” Pizer said, “that this discrimination directed at transgender youth and their families is illegal.”
The order also encourages the Federal Trade Commission to consider whether “so-called conversion therapy” constitutes an unfair or deceptive practice and whether to issue consumer warnings about services in this regard.
Biden is also asking the Department of Education to publish a sample school policy to achieve full inclusion of LGBTQ students.
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In an effort to address the mental health of LGBTQ youth, Biden will expand access to suicide prevention resources. Biden is also launching a new initiative through the executive order to address discrimination and barriers LGBTQ children and parents face in foster care.
The executive order will also strengthen federal data collection on sexual orientation and gender identity among LGBTQ homeless people and housing insecurity, as well as access to health care.
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Naomi Goldberg, deputy director of the Movement Advancement Project, praised Biden for leading agencies to act. But the real job, she said, will be making sure change happens quickly to address current attacks and end long-term disparities.
“Advocates for LGBTQ youth, in particular, will need to be vigilant to ensure this exploration translates into action,” Goldberg said of Biden’s directive to the Department of Health and Human Services to consider ways to clarify that federally funded programs the federal government cannot offer conversion therapy
Contributing: Marc Ramirez
Contact Rebecca Morin on Twitter @RebeccaMorin_