How the ACLU Tracks Anti-LGBTQ Bills and How We Fight Back | News and comments

Since 2015, political attacks on LGBTQ people have grown exponentially in state legislatures across the country. The ACLU launched a national tracking system to publicly document and categorize anti-LGBTQ bills introduced into state legislatures and direct users to learn more about efforts to protect LGBTQ people and the right to safe, inclusive schools and communities.

The purpose of this page is to help advocates, organizers, and allies take action against these bills while exposing these proposals for what they are: a coordinated and political attack on LGBTQ people across the country.

A: Our legal and advocacy team uses a bill tracking service and works with ACLU affiliates and local organizations across the country to monitor state legislatures for bills targeting LGBTQ rights. Each bill is reviewed by legal staff at the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project before being categorized on this site.

The ACLU’s first priority in this work is to stop any anti-LGBTQ bill from becoming law by working together with our affiliates and coalition partners, building connections with grassroots activists, engaging directly with legislators, and educating the broader public about the harms of these attacks. Because of this hard work, most proposed anti-LGBTQ bills never become law.

Bills that do become law may face a legal challenge from the ACLU, its affiliates, or one of our many partners in the LGBTQ rights movement. In recent years, the ACLU has challenged bills across the country that limit access to gender-affirming health care, prohibit transgender people from updating identification documents, and deny transgender students equal access to school facilities and activities, as well as protect inclusive policies from political and legal attacks.

A: Each bill is assigned one or more categories based on its focus and issue. They include:

Access to health care

Lawmakers are targeting access to medically necessary health care for transgender people. Many of these bills prohibit affirmative care for trans youth and may even create criminal penalties for providing such care. These bills exempt identical treatments offered to cisgender youth and even surgeries imposed on intersex youth. Other bills block funding for medical centers that offer gender-affirming care, or block Medicaid or other insurance coverage for health care for transgender people.

Public premises

Everyone should have access to facilities such as restrooms and changing rooms, regardless of their gender identity or gender expression, but these bills prohibit transgender people from using facilities such as public restrooms and changing rooms. If you cannot use the toilet, you cannot fully participate in work, school and social life.

Schools and education

State lawmakers are trying to prevent trans students from participating in school activities like sports, forcing teachers to walk students out, and censoring school discussions of LGBTQ people and issues. Instead of limiting resources, education and opportunities, our schools must protect and support all students to learn and thrive.

Freedom of speech and expression

Despite First Amendment guarantees of the right to free expression, politicians have struggled to limit how and when LGBTQ people can be themselves, limiting access to books about them and attempting to ban or censor performances such as drag shows.

Access to exact identifiers

These bills attempt to limit the ability to update gender information on personal documents and records, such as birth certificates and driver’s licenses. This puts transgender people at risk of job loss, harassment and other harm. Trans, intersex and non-binary people need identity documents that accurately reflect who they are to travel, apply for jobs and enter public places without risk of harassment or harm.

Weakening civil rights laws

These bills attempt to undermine and weaken non-discrimination laws by allowing employers, businesses and even hospitals to turn away LGBTQ people or deny them equal treatment.

Other anti-LGBTQ bills

These bills don’t quite fit into any of the other categories, but they nonetheless target the rights of LGBTQ people. Examples include marriage bans and bills that protect against domestic discrimination.

A: Each bill is reviewed by ACLU legal staff and determined to be an anti-LGBTQ bill based on its text, potential impact, and limitations or interventions based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Most of these bills may not use words like “gay” or “transgender” in their text, but they nonetheless aim to directly limit the rights, safety, or freedom of LGBTQ people.

This page does not include bills and proposals that may have a disparate impact on LGBTQ people but do not directly target LGBTQ people. Restrictions on access to abortion, for example, have a different impact on LGBQ women and many transgender people, but will not be considered on this page at this time. Click here to learn more about the ACLU’s work to expand reproductive freedom and access to abortion.

A: Legislative reports from previous years can be found here.

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