President Joe Biden will launch new efforts to combat discrimination and expand protections for the LGBTQ+ community, senior White House officials announced.
The announcement will include plans to combat book bans in conservative states, initiatives to develop mental health programs to aid transgender youth, will address LGBTQ+ youth homelessness and provide safety training to recognize and counter threats.
“LGBTQ Americans are being targeted for who they are and that, simply put, is discrimination,” said White House Domestic Policy Advisor Neera Tanden on a press call previewing the announcement. “As an administration, we will never stop fighting for their freedom.”
According to senior administration officials, the planned announcements will lay along three prongs: Protecting the LGBTQ community; supporting the LGBTQ community; and uplifting the LGBTQ+ community. These policies, officials said, are increasingly backed by Americans in favor of LGBTQ+ rights.
“I think one thing that we have to be clear eyed about is that the people who are opponents of LGBTQI+ Americans are leading a pretty significant campaign of disinformation,” said a senior White House official speaking to reporters on background. “And we see these attacks on the community using the same types of hateful lies and stereotypes that have been used against our community, really, for decades and for generation.”
Concerns about violence are top of mind for many within the LGBTQ+ community, especially during Pride Month. According to the Department of Homeland Security’s Summary of Terrorism-Related Threat to the United States, the LGBTQ+ community is considered to be among the country’s “likely targets of political violence.”
A recent summary, published in May, noted a planed attack in which an extremist allegedly sought to burn down a church in Ohio that planned a drag-themed event.
“We’ll be encouraging and reaching out directly to organizations that have been impacted by these violent threats to help make sure that they have the training and resources they need to stay safe,” a senior official said.
DHS will provide trainings to health care providers and LGBTQ+ community organizations, including community centers, small businesses and pride festivals, to help prevent and respond to threats. DHS will also expand its United Against Hate initiative, which seeks to build trust between law enforcement and communities — a divide that has historically been marked by harassment, profiling and discrimination — to improve hate crime reporting.
In March, on Transgender Day of Visibility, SAMHSA released a report strengthening existing findings that it is “normal and healthy for children to identify as LGBTQI+ and that all children should have their sexual orientation or gender identity affirmed and supported.”
In accordance, SAMHSA will also release $1.7 million in new federal funding to support family affirmation and counseling programs keeping LGBTQ+ youth safe.
Department of Health and Human Services will issue a new advisory to mental health professionals regarding best practices for supporting transgender kids and LGBTQ+ youth as a whole.
“[The SAMHSA] report made clear that efforts to suppress or change a kid's gender identity or sexual orientation are harmful and dangerous, and that, instead, parents, mental health providers, and other supportive adults can help keep kids safe and help prevent suicide attempts by supporting and affirming an LGBTQI+ child's identity. You should expect to see that same type of evidence reflected in this advisory to mental health care providers,” a senior administration official said.
HHS will also release guidance to the states so they can use federal funding for dedicated LGBTQ+ mental health services; announce future proposals to protect LGBTQ+ kids and families from discrimination; and advance rulemaking to protect LGBTQ +youth in foster care.
The administration will also announce that the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights plans to provide trainings for schools on how book bans targeting specific communities may create a hostile school environment that violates federal civil rights.
President Biden was set to host a Pride Celebration on the South Lawn of the White House, featuring singer Betty Who, on Thursday evening, but it was postponed until Saturday "based on the projected air quality in the region," according to a pool report.
The Biden administration invited thousands of LGBTQ+ individuals to the event. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, the first openly gay person to serve in the role, said the celebration is a way to "lift up" the accomplishments of the community.