Millions of Americans in the LGBTQ community participate in nationwide Pride Month activities.
“Today I want to send a message to the entire (LGBTQ) community, especially transgender children: You are loved. You are heard. You are understood,” Biden said June 10, at an event on the White House lawn to mark the occasion.
The event was attended by First Lady Jill Biden.
Several hundred anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in 41 states this year. More than 200 of these bills are related to the situation of transgender people.
A growing number of speeches, legal efforts to restrict the rights of LGBTQ people and political rhetoric fueling the national debate on issues such as drag shows and health care for transgender people may, according to some experts interviewed by Reuters, feed each other.
Jay Ulfelder, a political scientist at Harvard University, has been tracking anti-LGBTQ protests since 2017. Available data shows an increase in the number of LGBTQ events from 2022, about 30 times compared to 2017. Over the last year and a half, right-wing protests were nearly four times more likely than before to include anti-LGBTQ narratives.
Jen Koon of Kaleidoscope, a queer youth organization in Columbus, Ohio, said it looked “surreal” when neo-Nazis showed up at a charity event in April, waving swastikas and a banner reading “There will have blood”. Support from the local community helps her celebrate pride, she said, but that doesn’t change the focus on safety.
According to Angela Dallar, spokesperson for LGBTQ rights organization GLAAD, the organization recorded eight cases of Pride in 2023 when organizers had to change their plans due to threats of violence.
At least three people were arrested on June 6 after violence erupted outside a school district meeting discussing LGBTQ inclusivity in Glendale, California.
Asked about the threat level during Pride month, an FBI spokesperson said the agency urges caution, stressing the need to report suspicious activity.
They bring together legal measures to limit the rights of LGBTQ people. Human rights organization ACLU tracked 491 anti-LGBTQ bills in state legislatures in 2023. This is a record number for the past century.
Republicans have launched efforts in recent months to restrict LGBTQ rights in at least 15 states.
In Florida, education officials this year expanded Governor Ron DeSantis’ 2022 initiative to limit discussion of LGBTQ issues in schools to third grade, also known as the Don’t Say Gay Bill, to all public schools.
Proponents of the bill argue that only parents should decide when to discuss topics such as sexuality or gender identity with their children, while critics say it isolates, endangers and silences students LGBTQ.
On the internet, slurs such as “groomer” – the image that LGBTQ people are “kid groomers” or pedophiles – have moved from fringe discourse into the mainstream.
A report last year from the Center to Fight Digital Hate (CCHR) and the Human Rights Campaign found that in the month since the Don’t Say Gay Bill was passed in March 2022, it There was a 406% increase in tweets mentioning “the groomers”. Before the bill passed, such a narrative was rare.
Ilan Meyer, a University of California researcher and leading expert on mental health stressors in the LGBT community, says he’s terrified of the resurgence of old, misguided narratives, like the one that gay people do harm. to children.
Proving a causal link between online and offline attacks isn’t easy, warns Joel Day, research director for an initiative at Princeton University that tracks political violence nationwide, but online and offline are mutually reinforcing.
According to Kimberly Balsam, professor of psychology and LGBTQ researcher at the University of Palo Alto, the harmful effects of online and offline attacks are inseparable.
Bridget Bandit, a full-time drag show performer in Austin, Texas, said she has never experienced so much online hostility towards the drag industry as she did last year.
According to Bandit, the current vibe feels like “we’re going back to the roots of Pride.” She noted that Pride began as an annual reminder of the Stonewall Riots that broke out in New York after police stormed a gay bar in June 1969.
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