The Fight Against Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation

Over the past few years, we have seen a record-breaking onslaught of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation across the country. So far in 2024, 515 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have already been introduced in states all across the United States. Of these bills, 336  specifically targeted trans and non-binary people. This is nearly three times the number of such bills introduced in 2022. These bills target all aspects of LGBTQ+ people’s lives, including healthcare, education, and even using the restroom. This legislation is a direct response in recent years to the increasing protection of LGBTQ+ people against discrimination in healthcare, the workplace, housing, marriage, education, and public accommodations. Increasingly, conservative extremists are using anti-LGBTQ+ legislation as a prominent part of their political platforms to rally support from their voter base. In honor of Pride month, this blog will take a brief look at the history of anti-LGBTQ+ bills and examine the current-day anti-LGBTQ+ bills we are fighting against. With the upcoming election in November, we all have the opportunity to act and push back against this harmful legislation!

History of Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation

While we have seen a historic amount of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation over the past few years, this new wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is part of a historically sustained campaign to erode or eliminate LGBTQ+ rights. Since its founding in 1974, Howard Brown Health has been serving LGBTQ+ communities and helping queer communities fight against legislative attacks on their rights. In the 1970s, there was a notable increase in anti-LGBTQ+ legislation stemming from supposed “moral” panic in response to the increased support for LGBTQ+ rights. For example, Anita Bryant and the Save Our Children campaign was one of the first very high-profile examples of targeted anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. This campaign produced the original “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which resulted in the repeal of an ordinance in Dade County, Florida that protected gay and lesbian teachers from being fired because of their sexuality. This spawned lookalike bills against gay and lesbian teachers in Oklahoma and Nebraska. At this time, states also started to pass statutes restricting marriage to heterosexual couples, as well as sodomy laws targeting queer people. This pattern of successful anti-LGBTQ+ legislation spawning a surge of lookalike and new legislation across the country would continue to repeat itself, especially as opposition to LGBTQ+ rights has become a more prominent political issue. From same-sex marriage bans, to anti-trans bathroom bills, to religious exemption bills, to this current surge of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, Howard Brown and the LGBTQ+ community continue to push back against these attacks.

The New Wave of Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation

In 2023 we saw an expansion and proliferation of anti-LGBTQ+ bills that has continued into 2024.

Gender-affirming care bans – These bills deny access to medically necessary gender-affirming care that many trans and nonbinary people rely on. They are still the most popular version of anti-LGBTQ+ bills. Many of these bills were aimed at trans and non-binary youths attempting to access GAC.

185 anti-trans GAC bills were introduced in 2023.
137 GAC bans have been introduced in 2024 so far.

“Don’t Say Gay” curriculum restriction bills – “Don’t Say Gay” bills prohibit teaching about sexual orientation or gender identity in the classroom. These bills can also often include bans on use of pronouns and censoring of books and other educational resources with LGBTQ+ characters or themes.

Last year, 314 education-related bills were introduced in 2023.
Around 203 bills have been introduced in 2024 related to education and curriculum restrictions.

Trans bathroom and sports bans – Sports bans prevent trans youth from participating in school sports aligned with their gender identity. Bathroom bans ban trans individuals from using public facilities, particularly bathrooms, that correspond to their gender identity.

73 sports and 29 bathroom bans were introduced in 2023.
48 sports and 36 bathroom bans have been introduced in 2024 so far.

Drag ban bills – Drag bans generally prohibit drag performances and gender non-conforming expression in public places and/or in the presence of minors.

15 drag bills were considered in 2023 with two states, Montana and Tennessee passing these bans. However, these bans have been deemed law restricting drag performances is currently unenforceable due to a federal court order.
21 drag-related bills have been considered in 12 states in 2024, but a number of them are carried over from 2023 legislative sessions.

Unfortunately, 2024 is poised to be another challenging year in fighting against anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, and there are some new and growing trends in the types of legislation or aspects of legislation that advocates should be aware of. One emerging trend is the increasing number of forced outing policies often included in “Don’t Say Gay” bills. These policies typically require school staff to notify parents about changes in the name or pronoun used for a student at school. Eight states have forced outing polices in place with Idaho, South Carolina, and Tennessee passing bills with forced outing provisions in 2024. This puts students in incredibly vulnerable positions as their homes may not be a safe space. A 2022 survey by the Trevor Project shows that 51% of trans youth considered school a safe space, in stark contrast to the 32% who felt the same about their homes. School may present as one if not the only safe space for queer students. According to the Journal of Adolescent Health, students who couldn’t use their preferred name and pronouns were 29% more likely to consider suicide and 56% more likely to exhibit suicidal behavior.

There is also a growing introduction of bills that redefine the legal meaning of “sex.” These bills attempt to exclude trans and non-binary people from protection under the law by codifying definitions of sex and gender that are completely binary and solely about reproductive capacity or physical genital categorization. This will prevent trans and non-binary individuals from being able to legally change their gender marker on their IDs, access GAC, or be protected under certain discrimination protections, especially in healthcare. 41 of these bills have been introduced in 2024.

There is also an uptick in anti-LGBTQ+ bills being introduced at the national level in the United States Congress. In 2023, an unprecedented 37 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced at the federal level impacting LGBTQ+ rights in healthcare, student athletics, the military, incarceration, and education. As of May 2024, we have already outpaced 2023 with 45 anti-LGBTQ+ bills being introduced into the U.S. Congress. This includes the newly introduced Protection of Women in Olympic and Amateur Sports Act that would require all national governing bodies for amateur sports to bar trans girls and women from participating in athletic events for females. This would affect Olympic teams, national championships, and more.

How to push back against Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation

With the historical number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills we have seen this year, we have seen some recent wins against this hateful legislation. Recently the Biden Administration released an updated rule implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The new Section 1557 rule reinstates explicit prohibitions on discrimination based on gender identity, and it introduces new provisions that prohibit discrimination based sexual orientation or sex characteristics, including intersex traits. The new Section 1557 rule applies to all federal health programs and activities, including health insurance issuers. The Biden Administration also released an undated Title IX rule that adds explicit protections for LGBTQ+ students and expands the definition of sexual harassment to include sexual orientation and gender Identity.

Even with these wins, we need an unprecedented amount of support to push back against these bills and uphold LGBTQ+ rights! It is vital to vote and support candidates who support LGBTQ+ rights and push back against these harmful bills. The Human Rights Campaign has a Congressional Scorecard so you can track how your legislators in Congress are voting regarding important LGBTQ+ issues. You can also look at past year’s scorecards to better understand your legislators’ voting record. You can visit the GLESN Action Center to learn more about how to support important legislation that will improve LGBTQ+ students’ lives and make schools safer and more affirming. You can support Gender Cool’s Play It Out Campaign which supports trans kids’ participation in sports without discrimination. You can also tell your Members of Congress to protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in healthcare! You can read more about some of the legislation discussed by reading our Don’t Say Gay, Drag Bans, and support trans athletes blogs. You can also visit our Advocacy page to learn more about our work.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
This site is not optimized for Internet Explorer. Please consider viewing the site in a modern browser such as Edge, Chrome or Firefox.