President Joe Biden signed an executive order Wednesday that aims to protect youth from “hateful attacks,” hitting back at Republicans who have worked to politicize the issue through a slew of anti-LGBTQ policies introduced into states in recent months.
“We have a lot more work to do,” Biden said during a White House event in celebration of Pride Month on Wednesday. “I don’t have to tell you about the ultra-MAGA agenda attacking families and our freedoms.”
Biden referenced various legislation introduced in states, including a Texas rule that allows the state to investigate parents of transgender children for child abuse and another bill in Florida dubbed by opponents the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
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“Three hundred discriminatory bills introduced in states across this country – in Texas, knocking on front doors to harass and investigate parents who are raising transgender children, in Florida, going after Mickey Mouse for God’s sake,” Biden said. “These attacks are real and consequential for real families.”
Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill garnered national attention earlier this year, as advocates framed the law that prohibits classroom instruction of sexual orientation and gender identity for some younger age groups as a parental rights bill, like Gov. Ron DeSantis, who claimed a “national trend” exists to “cut parents out” of their child’s education.
By April, at least 20 states – from South Carolina to Ohio to Arizona – had introduced similar legislation, along with hundreds of bills introduced in states that advocates say target transgender youth, from those that restrict transgender athletes from competing in sports to others that ban gender-confirming care.
On Wednesday, Biden signed the executive order, which directs the Department of Health and Human Services to release new guidelines for states to expand health care for LGBTQ youth and to release guidelines to clarify that federally funded programs in states may not offer “conversion therapy.” It also tasks the Education Department with releasing a sample school policy “for achieving full inclusion for LGBTQI+ students,” according to the White House, among other initiatives.
“We’re in a battle for the soul of the nation,” Biden said, in a common refrain. “And when I look around the room today, I know we will win.”