Miami Beach Pride Festival 2024

Students prepare signs for display in the Pride Parade on Ocean Drive during the annual Miami Beach Pride Festival on April 14, 2024 in Miami Beach, Florida.

(Photo by Sean Drakes/Getty Images)

Parents and Children Are Fighting Back—And Winning for LGBTQ+ Rights

Fear-mongering, intolerance, and hate fail when we stand united against them.

We have the power to reshape laws, stop harmful agendas, and change the narrative to protect our children and allow them to learn and grow in healthy communities. Just last month, we celebrated LGBTQ+ identity and the strides we've made over many years so everyone can have the opportunity to live openly and authentically. This year is especially crucial to protect that progress because of the ongoing attacks on LGBTQ+ children and families happening in our schools and communities. The good news is that the powerful resistance led by parents, advocates, and young people is now turning the tide.

Across the nation, select politicians are starting to retreat from using anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric to evoke fear and sow divisions. This shift in momentum didn't happen by accident; it’s a testament to the strength and commitment of parents and young people standing up for the kind of inclusive community they want to live in. Fear-mongering fails when we stand united against it.

As a parent and ally, I am deeply troubled by the attacks on trans families and LGBTQ+ individuals. They are not just political—they are personal. They affect our neighbors, our friends, and most of all, children. Our country has witnessed a concerning rise in the introduction and passage of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. In 2019, 100 bills targeting the LGBTQ+ community were introduced. Last year, that number rose to 600 bills against the transgender community alone, 87 of which passed. This year over 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced so far and 34 have passed, harming more young people and their families every day.

It’s important to spotlight these initial wins, build on this momentum, and redouble our commitment to the fight for freedom for all.

These legislative efforts, often disguised as religious or cultural conservatism, perpetuate stigma and discrimination, threatening the safety, well-being, and livelihoods of LGBTQ+ people. Transgender individuals, in particular, face heightened risks of harassment, violence, and exclusion in public spaces and institutions. Moreover, anti-LGBTQ+ legislation harms LGBTQ+ youth by reinforcing feelings of shame, isolation, and unworthiness, and increases the risk of mental health issues, particularly suicidal tendencies.

Despite the formidable challenges, young people, parents and allies have worked together to resist and challenge discriminatory laws. Grassroots advocacy efforts and legal challenges are successfully defeating many of the laws that have been introduced this year and stopping the introduction of new ones.

For example, in Georgia, parents, faith leaders, educators and health care providers spoke out and overcame daunting political odds to defeat nearly 20 anti-LGBTQ+ bills. In West Virginia, advocates successfully opposed over 20 bills. In Kentucky, moderate Republicans and faith leaders joined forces to reject harmful legislation and protect local nondiscrimination ordinances. These victories highlight the power of community action, grassroots mobilization, and shared values.

Florida is worth highlighting to understand this trend. Equality Florida has been on the frontline, bearing the brunt of every kind of attack and creating a roadmap for effective resistance. This session, they defeated 21 of the 22 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced. While they are the state’s LGBTQ civil rights group, their impact has been felt across the country. By rebranding Florida’s bill HB 1557 as the "Don't Say Gay" bill, they spotlighted its intent to censor LGBTQ+ students, intimidate teachers, and erase families. This slogan became a national call to action.

Uplifting the voices of parents has been vital to Equality Florida’s efforts. Parents who never thought of themselves as activists are showing up to confront lies about their families at school board meetings and in the legislature. They have fought against book bans, censorship of what children can learn, and the denial of life-saving healthcare decisions for their kids.

While Florida is the frontline, we must recognize this is a national fight. We must stand united against these cynical political attacks to protect our democratic values of equality and justice for all.

Even as we celebrate these victories, we need to recognize that there are extremist groups in many states that have vowed to continue their unholy crusade against the LGBTQ+ community. They are organized and backed by think tanks, political consultants, and deep-pocketed funders willing to bankroll their attacks. At the end of the day, protecting LGBTQ+ people from harm is a shared responsibility—we can all learn from the parents, young people, and their communities leading the charge to safeguard these protections. As we approach the ballot box in November, it's important to consider the impact of our choices on the rights and well-being of all members of our community.

It’s important to spotlight these initial wins, build on this momentum, and redouble our commitment to the fight for freedom for all. In the years ahead, I hope we see the impact of common-sense legislation that makes it easier for all of our youth and families to feel safe and supported. I am optimistic about our future, knowing that parents and allies will continue to fight for what is right. And, we can’t do it alone. Please join with your powerful voice and vote.

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