States Work to Dismantle LGBTQ+ Rights During Pride Month

In Nyssa's weekly 'Need to Know' series, we recap the three most important stories related to reproductive health, sex education, and bodily autonomy.

Acknowledging Pride and the challenges ahead

Pride Month is a time to recognize the LGBTQ+ progress made by activists since police raided the Stonewall Inn in New York City on June 28, 1969 resulting in the Stonewall Uprising. It's also a time to take stock of how far we have to go. The LGBTQ+ community has always been under attack and although progress has been made, anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes and legislation have increased. As of last year, hate crimes based on sexual orientation made up 16.7% of hate crimes. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 2021 has become the worst year for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation with 17 anti-LGBTQ+ laws passed as of last month, including an increase of bans on gender-affirming care for trans youth.

Arkansas bans gender-affirming care for trans youth; ACLU sues

Arkansas became the first U.S. state to ban access to gender-affirming care for trans youth. Gender affirming care, including puberty blockers and gender-affirming hormone treatments, have been proven to improve trans youth’s physical and mental health. When Gov. Asa Hutchinson received the bill, he vetoed it saying it was a "step way too far.” Ultimately, state legislators voted to override his veto and the bill was passed. The ACLU filed a lawsuit last month on behalf of four transgender youth and their families and on Thursday, the Department of Justice slammed the transgender bans as a violation of federal law.

Pushing for LGBTQ+-inclusive sex education in schools

URGE, a national organization dedicated to gender and reproductive equality, along with other LGBTQ+ advocacy groups released a report calling for urgent and increased access to LGBTQ+-inclusive sex education. LGBTQ+-inclusive sex education teaches gender identity and sexual orientation, healthy models of LGBTQ+ relationships, and safe sex practices for all identities, among other related topics.

As of May, only California, Colorado, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington, have state laws or regulatory guidance requiring LGBTQ+-inclusive sex education. Other states like Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas prohibit teaching LGBTQ+ related content.