After a record year for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation at the state level, 2024 is shaping up to be just as challenging.
In 2023, more than 550 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced across 43 states, and more than 80 were passed into law. So far in the new year, 285 have been introduced, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
These bills seek to limit LGBTQ+ people’s rights in education, health care, public accommodations, free speech and expression, and much more. A total of 130 would restrict students’ and teachers’ rights through curriculum censorship, forced outing of students, and other regulations. Seventy-one of the bills deal with health care, mostly with age restrictions. There are 21 drag show bans. Other measures would weaken civil rights laws by defining men and women according to reproductive capacity or prevent transgender people from changing their gender marker on official documents.
As in the past few years, many of the bills specifically target trans people. “Transgender people across the country are enduring a historic and dangerous effort to control our bodies and our lives, fueled by extremist politics with the goal of erasing us from public life,” ACLU attorney Harper Seldin told The Hill.
“Taken together, these proposals are a blatant effort to deny transgender people the freedom to be ourselves at school, at work, and the support of the medical care many of us need to live,” he added. “We at the ACLU and our nationwide affiliate network stand ready to defend our freedoms and our families from this baseless assault.”
The bills introduced so far are largely in the South and Midwest. Some are in Republican-dominated states that have already passed anti-LGBTQ+ laws, such as Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, Tennessee, Iowa, and Missouri. Others, however, are in Democratic-governed states where they have little chance of passage, such as Illinois, Minnesota, and Washington.
But even when such bills do not pass, they do harm, the ACLU points out, as debate over them is marked by hateful rhetoric. Young LGBTQ+ people feel particularly threatened, as indicated by a Trevor Project study last year.
“The ACLU will not stop speaking out against these cruel attacks nationwide,” the organization vowed in a statement on its website. “LGBTQ people have a right to live in safety, to thrive, and to be treated with dignity.”