LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 11: ACLU march participants carry signs in support of rights for transgender people during the 2023 LA Pride Parade in Hollywood on June 11, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. The annual parade draws thousands of revelers to Hollywood Boulevard. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, nearly 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced across the U.S. in state legislatures since the beginning of 2023. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
The Human Rights Campaign said 2023 was the “most damaging and destructive legislative session” for the LGBTQ+ community, particularly for transgender youth.
“This year, sadly, we expect more of the same,” said Kelley Robinson, president of the LGBTQ+ advocacy group, in a news release. “But these attacks are out of touch with the American people — and they are a losing political strategy. We are the majority, and we will not stop until we are setting new records in support of LGBTQ+ people in every corner of the country.”
On Tuesday, HRC and the Equality Federation shared their latest state equality index, which places each state into a category based on its LGBTQ-related legislation and policies.
California, Maine, New York and 16 other states, plus Washington, D.C., are in the highest-rated category, “Working Toward Innovative Equality.” Michigan, Alaska, Wisconsin, Iowa and Pennsylvania are in the second category down, “Solidifying Equality.” Utah and Arizona are in the third category, “Building Equality.” And 23 states, including Florida, Texas, Tennessee and Alabama are in the lowest-rated category, “High Priority to Achieve Basic Equality.”
Utah, Kentucky and North Dakota were moved down a category because of anti-LGBTQ+ state laws. Michigan and Arizona moved up categories from last year.
“This past legislative session marked one of the most daunting periods for transgender rights, requiring effective strategies and relentless advocacy from folks on the ground,” said Fran Hutchins, executive director of the Equality Federation Institute, in a news release. “Despite the increasing number of bills filed nationwide, advocates and activists were able to beat back the majority of this legislation. Queer and trans people are powerful, and we are not going anywhere.”
More than 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced in last year’s legislative session and more than half of those bill target transgender people. Of those, 75 bills became law, according to NBC News and the ACLU.
The Human Rights Campaign and four other organizations signed a letter to the United Nations last week urging it to step in and protect LGBTQ+ people in Texas, arguing that the state’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights treaty.
Florida in particular has become a hot spot for anti-LGBTQ+ policies under Gov. Ron DeSantis. In May of last year alone, DeSantis signed six anti-LGBTQ+ bills into law, including one banning trans people from using public restrooms.