As the U.S. advances toward accepting and respecting members of the LGBTQI+ community, pushback is being given by several elected officials from all around the nation. This and other factors have led to the issuance of President Joe Biden’s LGBTQI+ Executive Order, a historic move that aims to combat the discrimination many individuals of this community still face today.
Here’s what Biden hopes his Executive Order–Advancing Equality for LGBTQI+ Individuals will accomplish, and the various practices he is hoping it will put an end to.
Biden’s executive order seeks to provide “overdue civil rights protections” for members of the LGBTQI+ community.
President Biden has said in the past that he will “fight for full equality for every American,” and the LGBTQI+ Executive Order he signed in June 2022 serves as proof of this. The order, which was signed during Pride Month, addresses various issues and seeks to take “additional steps to advance LGBTQI+ equality.”
Here’s a look at Biden’s executive order, specifically, the issues it aims to tackle.
Biden is looking to preserve LGBTQI+ children and families’ right to access healthcare.
There have been more than 300 anti-LGBTQI+ laws introduced in the last year, according to a press release from the White House, many of which target transgender children. Some of the laws ban transgender children and their parents from accessing medical care while others deny students access to certain types of instruction.
In March 2022, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill titled “Parental Rights in Education,” that prohibits public school teachers from providing instruction that centers around sexual orientation and gender identity. Opponents of the bill have since renamed it to “Don’t Say Gay.”
Through his initiative, Biden has assigned Health and Human Services (HHS) to protect members of the LGBTQI+ community “from attacks on their access to healthcare.”
Biden’s LGBTQI+ executive order also addresses “conversion therapy.”
Biden’s executive order is also designed to help end “conversion therapy.” The unethical practice, which isn't medically approved, is described by the White House as “a discredited and dangerous practice that seeks to suppress or change the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBTQI+ people.”
Biden’s initiative aims to “crack down on this harmful practice,” and has assigned HHS with the task of ensuring that any federally-funded programs don't offer this “so-called” therapy. According to the White House press release, children who are exposed to “conversion therapy” are at a higher risk of “attempted suicide and trauma.”
Reverend Joe Adams, now a Methodist minister in Colchester, shared with BBC his story and how he underwent “conversion therapy” as a teen. After informing his minister that he thought he was gay, he was told that “God can’t love [him].” Adams was then sent to a Pentecostal church where he was berated and hit by three men who “screamed for the devil to be removed from [him].”
He was also told that he had to marry a woman and have children so that the “gay would go away.” Decades later, Adams is now able to live the life he believes was meant for him and has a close relationship with his kids.
Biden’s initiative aims to knock down barriers that deny LGBTQI+ members access to federal programs and benefits.
The HHS has also been assigned the role of addressing any barriers and exclusions that stand in the way of LGBTQI+ individuals from accessing federal benefits and services. Specifically, Biden has tasked HHS to launch a study “of how current eligibility standards for federal programs impact LGBTQI+ and other households, and issue recommendations for more inclusive standards.”
A detailed outline of Biden’s LGBTQI+ Executive Order can be read on the Briefing Room of the White House website. The CDC also provides some helpful resources designed for LGBTQI+ individuals of all ages.