Amid a number of attacks on LGBTQ+ people in recent weeks, President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed a detailed executive order meant in part to counteract anti-transgender legislation like Georgia’s recently-passed anti-trans girl athlete law.
The “Executive Order on Advancing Equality for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Individuals” also takes on “the significant disparities that LGBTQI+ youth face in the foster care system, the misuse of State and local child welfare agencies to target LGBTQI+ youth and families, and the mental health needs of LGBTQI+ youth.”
Specifically, Biden called out “conversion therapy,” a long-debunked practice which aims to turn lesbian and gay people straight or to impose cisgender identity on transgender people; unfair housing practices affecting LGBTQ+ people, the lack of resources for LGBTQ+ seniors, and LGBTQ+ access to healthcare, including reproductive care.
Federal agencies are being directed to take these actions:
- Department of Health and Human Services: model policies for states to use in offering LGBTQ+ people and their families health services, including mental health services, as well as assistance for homeless LGBTQ+ youth
- Department of Education: model policies to support the academic success and well-being of LGBTQ+ students
- Federal Trade Commission: consider whether “conversion therapy” is a deceptive practice
- Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of HHS, Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development: “develop an action plan to promote an end to [conversion therapy’s] use around the world.”
- Department of Housing and Urban Development: “provide guidance and technical assistance to HUD contractors, grantees, and programs on effectively and respectfully serving LGBTQI+ individuals, including youth, and families”
- a “Bill of Rights for LGBTQI+ Older Adults,” especially for those in long-term care settings
- Interagency Working Group on Equitable Data: develop ways to collect reliable data on LGBTQ+ people “to measure and address the disparities that LGBTQI+ individuals, families, and households face, while safeguarding privacy, security, and civil rights.”
Biden also called for making family counseling and support of LGBTQI+ youth as a national public health priority.
He also ordered HHS to partner with state child welfare agencies to address the overrepresentation of LGBTQ+ children in the system, particularly in group homes, as well as the “disproportionately high rates of abuse, and placements in unsupportive or hostile environments faced by LGBTQI+ youth in foster care; disproportionately high rates of homelessness faced by LGBTQI+ youth who exit foster care; and discrimination faced by LGBTQI+ parents, kin, and foster and adoptive families.”
The U.S. Attorney General, Secretary of State, Secretary of HUD, Secretary of HHS, Secretary of Education, and Director of the Office of Management and Budget will give the President a progress report in one year.
“These disparities and barriers can be the greatest for transgender people and LGBTQI+ people of color,” Biden wrote. “Today, unrelenting political and legislative attacks at the State level — on LGBTQI+ children and families in particular — threaten the civil rights gains of the last half century and put LGBTQI+ people at risk. These attacks defy our American values of liberty and dignity, corrode our democracy, and threaten basic personal safety. They echo the criminalization that LGBTQI+ people continue to face in some 70 countries around the world. The Federal Government must defend the rights and safety of LGBTQI+ individuals.”
According to the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ rights group, more than 320 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced in state legislatures this year.