Published On: June 15, 20232.8 min read559 words

The increasing wave of legislative assaults targeting the rights and freedoms of the LGBTQI+ community underscores the urgent need for federal action to safeguard the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals. Despite being only halfway through 2023, over 75 anti-LGBTQI+ bills have already been signed into law. That is more than double last year’s number, which was previously the worst year on record. For the first time in their 40+ year history, the Human Rights Campaign, an organization that has been at the forefront in the fight for LGBTQI+ rights, has declared a national state of emergency for LGBTQI+ people in the United States.

Last week, the Biden-⁠Harris Administration announced actions they intend to fight back against these callous attacks. In celebration of Pride Month, they have announced an initiative focused on protecting LGBTQI+ communities, supporting LGBTQI+ youth, and addressing book bans that disproportionately strip books about LGBTQI+ communities off of library and classroom shelves.

Highlights of Commitments Impacting LGBTQI+ Youth Homelessness Focus

  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will launch a new LGBTQI+ Youth Homelessness Initiative to partner with local communities, service providers, and directly affected young people to specifically address LGBTQI+ youth homelessness and the needs of this community. Informed by listening sessions with LGBTQI+ youth nationwide, HUD will also provide technical assistance and regular training for shelter and service providers. Additionally, they will develop resources that showcase innovative approaches to supporting LGBTQI+ youth and launch Know Your Rights tools specifically tailored to meet their needs. 
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights announced that it will propose regulations to protect LGBTQI+ youth and families from discrimination in human services programs that support children and families, thus making the programs more accessible. The previous administration weakened protections that were designed to protect  LGBTQI+ Americans from discrimination. The new regulations from HHS would revitalize  protections put in place during the Obama administration.

New measures to support the mental health of LGBTQI+ youth and partner with families to affirm LGBTQI+ youth:

  • HHS will issue a Behavioral Health Care Advisory on Transgender and Gender Diverse Youth to provide evidence-based practices when working with LGBTQI+ youth for mental health providers. 
  •  HHS will provide guidance to states to help them fully utilize federal funding, including funding from the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, to support mental health services and provide technical assistance to communities to increase LGBTQI+ youth mental health services. 
  • HHS’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has also just released an LGBTQI+ Family Support Grant to provide $1.7 million in federal funding for programs that prevent health and behavioral health risks for LGBTQI+ youth (including suicide and homelessness) by helping families to affirm and support their LGBTQI+ child.

To read more about the actions outlined in this new federal initiative to protect the LGBTQI+ community, supporting LGBTQI+ kids to thrive, and address book bans, click here.

Research has shown that those who identify as LGBTQI+ have a 120% higher risk of experiencing some form of homelessness. Nearly 40% of youth experiencing homelessness identify as members of the LGBTQI+ community. LGBTQI+ youth experiencing homelessness have reported discriminatory practices and policies when trying to access services and housing. Others have been assaulted by peers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity while participating in programs designed to help youth experiencing homelessness.