Today, in celebration of Pride Month, the Biden-Harris Administration is announcing new actions to protect LGBTQI+ communities from attacks on their rights and safety. Over a dozen states have enacted anti-LGBTQI+ laws that violate our most basic values and freedoms as Americans, and are cruel and callous to our kids, our neighbors, and those in our community. The Biden-Harris administration stands with the LGBTQI+ community and has their backs in the face of these attacks, and today, federal agencies are announcing new actions to:
- Protect LGBTQI+ communities from attacks on their rights and safety by launching a new LGBTQI+ Community Safety Partnership and announcing that the Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department will serve as the Department’s liaison to the LGBTQI+ community on issues related to protecting the rights of the community.
- Support LGBTQI+ kids so they can thrive by strengthening mental health resources for LGBTQI+ youth, launching a new federal initiative to address LGBTQI+ youth homelessness, releasing federal funding to support programs that help parents affirm their LGBTQI+ kids, and advancing new regulations to protect LGBTQI+ youth in foster care.
- Shield LGBTQI+ Americans from book bans that threaten their rights by announcing that the Department of Education will appoint a new coordinator to address the growing threat that book bans pose for the civil rights of students.
Today’s announcements include:
I. Protecting the LGBTQI+ Community
Launching a LGBTQI+ Community Safety Partnership. LGBTQI+ communities face a surge in violence against individuals and community spaces. Federal threat monitoring shows that these threats are increasingly tied to hate groups and domestic violent extremists. LGBTQI+ individuals – especially transgender women and girls of color – have experienced disproportionately high rates of violence and hate crimes for decades. To protect against these increasing threats, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), with support from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), will launch the LGBTQI+ Community Safety Partnership. The Partnership will work hand-in-hand with LGBTQI+ community organizations to provide critical safety resources to ensure these organizations can remain safe spaces for the community. In acknowledgement of the mistreatment that LGBTQI+ communities have often faced in interactions with law enforcement, the Partnership will also work to build trust between LGBTQI+ organizations and federal law enforcement agencies. The Partnership will:
- Provide dedicated safety trainings for LGBTQI+ community organizations and increase federal threat briefings for LGBTQI+ organizations. DHS, through the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), will provide trainings to LGBTQI+ community organizations – including community centers, small businesses, and Pride festivals – to help them prevent and respond to threats. DHS will host bi-monthly threat briefings (or as required based on changes in the threat levels) for LGBTQI+ organizations to provide updates on the threat landscape and review key indicators of violence, and offer resources for local leaders. DHS will also lead a series of workshops for LGBTQI+ community organizations to raise awareness of federal funding for both physical security and threat prevention grant opportunities.
- Protect health care providers who serve the LGBTQI+ community. DHS and HHS will work with health care providers and medical associations to provide access to safety trainings and improve threat reporting to support doctors, clinics, and children’s hospitals that face increasing threats when they care for LGBTQI+ patients.
- Support LGBTQI+ communities to report hate crimes and build cross-community partnerships to address hate-fueled violence. U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, FBI Field Offices, DOJ Community Relations Service (CRS), the Civil Rights Division and others will undertake targeted engagement with community groups from the LGBTQI+ community and other communities victimized by hate crimes to increase understanding about how to report hate crimes. DOJ will also enhance public trust and public safety by partnering with state and local law enforcement agencies to increase the number of law enforcement officers who have completed CRS’s training programs on engaging with transgender individuals. Through its United Against Hate initiative, which brings together diverse communities to help improve the reporting of hate crimes and provide an opportunity for trust building between law enforcement and communities, DOJ will engage LGBTQI+ communities and other communities victimized by hate crimes as the program is expanded to all 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices by the end of September.
Protecting LGBTQI+ Americans’ rights. DOJ is committed to taking an all-of-Department approach to protecting LGBTQI+ rights. As part of that commitment, DOJ’s LGBTQI+ Working Group will coordinate quarterly stakeholder meetings chaired by the Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division, who will serve as liaison to and engage with the LGBTQI+ community and other relevant stakeholders on issues related to discrimination against the LGBTQI+ community. In addition, the Associate Attorney General will continue to coordinate and expand the Department’s work to respond to issues and challenges that affect the LGBTQI+ community, building on DOJ’s existing efforts to support the rights of LGBTQI+ Americans. DOJ is also releasing a fact sheet summarizing the Department’s work to protect the rights of LGBTQI+ Americans.
II. Supporting LGBTQI+ kids to thrive.
- Support the mental health of LGBTQI+ youth and partner with families to affirm LGBTQI+ kids. LGBTQI+ youth face a nationwide mental health crisis, and almost half of LGBTQI+ kids say they seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. However, when LGBTQI+ kids are supported, they thrive. Today, HHS is announcing it will issue a Behavioral Health Care Advisory on Transgender and Gender Diverse Youth to provide evidence-based practices for mental health providers. HHS will also issue a guidance to states and communities on using federal funding to support mental health services for LGBTQI+ youth, including funding from the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, and provide technical assistance to communities to increase LGBTQI+ youth mental health services. HHS’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has also just released an LGBTQI+ Family Support Grant to provide $1.7 million in federal funding for programs that prevent health and behavioral health risks for LGBTQI+ youth (including suicide and homelessness) by helping families to affirm and support their LGBTQI+ child.
- Protect LGBTQI+ youth in foster care. LGBTQI+ youth are overrepresented in the child welfare system, and far too often experience trauma, including being exposed to so-called “conversion therapy” while in care, being placed in foster care or congregate care settings that are hostile to their identity, or lacking access to health care and mental health services to support them. Today, the Administration for Children and Families at HHS is announcing that it will advance a rulemaking under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act to protect LGBTQI+ youth in foster care by requiring that state child welfare agencies ensure that LGBTQI+ youth have access to a safe and appropriate placement and have access to supportive services that help to affirm them. To inform this potential proposed rule, HHS will continue engaging with LGBTQI+ youth, foster parents, and other stakeholders.
- Shield LGBTQI+ kids and families from discrimination. The HHS Office for Civil Rights is announcing that it expects to issue proposed regulations to protect LGBTQI+ kids and families from discrimination in human services programs that support children and families. This Rule would strengthen protections eroded by the previous Administration to help protect LGBTQI+ Americans from discrimination.
- Address LGBTQI+ youth homelessness. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is announcing that it will launch a new LGBTQI+ Youth Homelessness Initiative to partner with local communities, service providers, and directly affected young people to address LGBTQI+ youth homelessness. Nearly 40 percent of all youth experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTQI+. HUD will encourage communities to develop collaborative solutions to address the specific needs of LGBTQI+ youth experiencing homelessness. HUD will also provide technical assistance and regular training for shelter and service providers, new resources highlighting innovative methods for supporting LGBTQI+ youth, and Know Your Rights tools for LGBTQI+ youth. This work will be informed by listening sessions HUD will hold with LGBTQI+ youth across the country.
III. Addressing Book Bans
- Protecting Americans from book banning. Across the country, our nation faces a spike in book bans – efforts that disproportionately strip books about LGBTQI+ communities, communities of color, and other communities off of library and classroom shelves. In fact, 2022 saw the highest number of book bans in 20 years. Book banning erodes our democracy, removes vital resources for student learning, and can contribute to the stigma and isolation that LGBTQI+ people and other communities face. The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is announcing that to support its ongoing work to defend the rights of LGBTQI+ students and other underserved communities, it will appoint a new coordinator to address the growing threat that book bans pose for the civil rights of students. That coordinator will work to provide new trainings for schools nationwide on how book bans that target specific communities and create a hostile school environment may violate federal civil rights laws.
Uplifting LGBTQI+ communities. The Department of Education will host Free to Learn: Creating Inclusive and Nondiscriminatory School Environments for LGBTQI+ Students, a national convening on taking action to support LGBTQI+ students. The Department of Health and Human Services will host Advancing LGBTQI+ Health Equity, a national convening on ensuring that LGBTQI+ Americans are healthy and can thrive.