(The Hill) – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) on Tuesday officially declared a state of emergency for LGBTQ people in the U.S., citing the passage of more than 75 laws in over a dozen states that explicitly target the community.
At least 525 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced this year in 41 states, the group said in its warning, including more than 220 pieces of legislation that explicitly target transgender people. More than 76 anti-LGBTQ bills have become law this year by HRC’s count, more than doubling last year’s number, which was previously the worst year on record.
“The multiplying threats facing millions in our community are not just perceived — they are real, tangible and dangerous,” HRC President Kelley Robinson said in a statement. “In many cases they are resulting in violence against LGBTQ+ people, forcing families to uproot their lives and flee their homes in search of safer states, and triggering a tidal wave of increased homophobia and transphobia that puts the safety of each and every one of us at risk.”
The HRC is the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights group.
In a news release, Wendy, a mother of four in Texas whose last name was not disclosed by HRC, said the more than 50 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced by state legislators this year have forced her to relocate her family. She plans to move to Minnesota this summer.
“Being forced to leave our family and friends, with Texas roots over a hundred years, is going to be the hardest thing we’ll ever do,” Wendy said. “Our close-knit family, especially my mom, is devastated. Going from seeing each other every week to every other month is going to be emotionally challenging.”
Twenty-one states now restrict the ability of transgender athletes to compete on sports teams consistent with their gender identity, according to HRC, impacting roughly 30 percent of the nation’s high school-aged transgender youth.
Another 20 states have passed laws or policies that heavily restrict or ban gender-affirming health care for transgender minors, as well as adults in some cases. Just under 31 percent of all transgender 13- to 17-year-olds are now living in states where they can no longer access care considered medically necessary by most major medical organizations, according to the HRC.
In at least nine states, transgender people are unable to use restrooms, locker rooms or other facilities that match their gender identity, impacting an estimated 15 percent of the nation’s transgender population.
“The assault on freedom is not limited to one state but permeates across America,” said Nadine Smith, the CEO of Equality Florida. Last month, both the HRC and Equality Florida issued a travel advisory to Florida, where at least four laws targeting LGBTQ people have been signed this year by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who launched his bid for the White House this month.
“The erosion of civil liberties by extremists to further their own political ambitions poses a direct threat to the health and safety of LGBTQ individuals,” Smith said. “It is imperative for all of us to recognize the gravity of this moment and commit ourselves to being on the frontlines, unwavering in our fight for freedom.”
In addition to declaring a national state of emergency, the HRC released a downloadable guidebook for LGBTQ people that includes health and safety resources, a summary of state-by-state laws and “know your rights” information for those traveling to or already living in states that have passed restrictive laws.