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As Pride Month Ends, Celebration of Legislative Wins Continues

BY: Trevor News
A young person waves the Progress Pride flag.
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The parades, picnics, and festivals that symbolize Pride Month may have concluded until next June, but we know that Pride celebrated by and for LGBTQ+ communities reverberates year-round. This is particularly true when considering the legal advancements made for LGBTQ+ young people across the nation during the 2024 state legislative sessions. While discriminatory bills that aim to erase or harm LGBTQ+ young people and adults alike often make headlines, it’s critical that we recognize the collective power we have in supporting legislators who champion key legal advancements. With over 260 LGBTQ+ affirming bills introduced in 40 states aimed at advancing protections for LGBTQ+ youth and adults — and at least 20 of those bills being enacted into law — there’s a lot to celebrate. 

Nationally, The Trevor Project helped secure an additional $33.1 million in federal funding — an 11.5% increase — for the 988 LGBTQ+ youth specialized services network. This increased funding will help ensure that even more LGBTQ+ young people across the U.S. can connect with a trained crisis intervention counselor when they need support.

This support is essential, particularly when we consider the significant harm that discriminatory legislation causes LGBTQ+ young people. Over 600 such bills were introduced this year, with a significant portion targeting transgender young people and inclusive school policies. While pro-equality lawmakers defeated over 3⁄4 of these discriminatory bills, we know that simply the debate around these bills can cause harm; 90% of LGBTQ+ youth reported being negatively impacted by discussion of recent politics. 

While we prepare for these future challenges, we also recognize the importance of celebrating the advancements we collectively achieved across every region. States such as Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Kentucky adjourned without any anti-LGBTQ+ bills being enacted into law thanks to the hard work of state advocates and lawmakers. Here are some of the major trends in enacted legislation that emerged related to LGBTQ+ inclusive schools, access to transgender medical care, and anti-discrimination measures.  

Safe and Affirming Schools

Significant wins were achieved this year to make K-12 schools safer and more affirming for LGBTQ+ young people. Colorado passed legislation that will now require school professionals to use a transgender student’s correct name, in addition to enacting legislation that affirms gender-inclusive graduation attire requirements and allows cultural or religious objects to be worn during the ceremony. States such as Washington and Minnesota advanced inclusive curriculum requirements, while Oklahoma and Vermont took steps to circumvent discriminatory curriculum censorship measures. Progress was made to advance positive mental health outcomes for students through the passage of advanced requirements for LGBTQ+inclusive mental health services for students in California, and the establishment of a task force to study the effects of bullying and hate speech in Connecticut. Connecticut also enacted legislation that requires the development of state school climate survey standards for the collection of data on diversity, equity, and inclusion along with developing a model school climate improvement plan. Further, Maryland enacted legislation that strengthens anti-bias training requirements for educators. 

Transgender Medical Care

Despite continued attacks on transgender medical care in states across the U.S., many advocates took steps to protect access to this vital care. States such as Maryland, Maine, and Rhode Island passed legislation that strengthens protections for providers of essential medical care for transgender youth, also known as “shield laws”. Washington passed similar legislation that harmonizes language concerning reproductive health care services and transgender medical care, further protecting access to such care in the state. To make this care more accessible, Minnesota advocates built off their previously enacted shield law by passing legislation requiring health insurance plans to cover transgender medical care. This win further demonstrates that we can make access to transgender medical care a reality for transgender people across the country, regardless of region. 

“Over the last two years, Minnesota has had its most consequential legislative session for LGBTQ+ rights since the passage of marriage equality in 2013,” said Kat Rohn (they/she), Executive Director of OutFront Minnesota. “Requirements for all insurance to cover gender-affirming care, and first-ever state investments in training care providers, are building on the promise of Minnesota’s trans refuge bill in 2023 – and continuing to send a message of welcome and inclusion here in our state.”

These wins aren’t just happening in state legislatures. This month, a federal district court permanently blocked Florida from enforcing a previously enacted law prohibiting transgender medical care for minors and further restricting access to this essential care for adults. This ruling makes history, as Florida was the first state to pass this type of discriminatory ban on health care. Additionally, efforts to restrict access to transgender medical care in Ohio have been continuously challenged and blocked through both a lawsuit challenging the previously enacted ban on transgender medical care and public pressure to lessen the impact of proposed administrative rules on transgender medical care. 

Anti-Discrimination 

Colorado advanced legislation that strengthens anti-discrimination measures based on gender identity and expression. Colorado also passed legislation establishing a youth bill of rights that clarifies anti-discrimination requirements pertaining to sexual orientation and gender identity in youth detention facilities. Pennsylvania’s leading boards of licensure comprehensively banned the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy by licensed mental health providers, with the support of The Trevor Project. 

Reasons to Be Hopeful

As we reflect on these advancements, it’s important to recognize that legislative wins don’t appear out of the blue. These legal protections that further support and uplift the needs of LGBTQ+ young people only prevail through the countless hours of work that state based advocacy organizations, and their LGBTQ+ communities put in to demonstrate the importance of making our communities safe and affirming for LGBTQ+ young people and adults. If you want to join the impact, text TREVOR to 50457 to receive advocacy alerts to your phone.

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