June is Pride Month, an annual event that celebrates the LGBTQ+ community and its impact on United States’ history, at home and abroad.

What You Need To Know

  • This year's Pride Month comes as states are considering a record number of anti-transgender bills, per the Human Rights Campaign

  • One batch of bills seeks to ban transgender girls from competing on girls’ sports teams in public schools

  • Another batch of bills seeks to ban gender-affirming medical treatments for trans minors, including the use of puberty blockers and hormone therapy

  • President Joe Biden on Monday called on the Senate to pass the Equality Act, which would amend existing civil rights law to include sexual orientation and gender identification as protected characteristics

In the United States, Pride Month commemorates the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, which marked a “turning point” in the fight for LGBTQ+ civil rights, according to the Library of Congress. The first official Pride march was held in New York the following year; in the decades since, parades, marches, events, and demonstrations have spread across the country every June. 

And while it’s true that there has been marked progress for LGBTQ+ rights over the past 51 years, this year’s Pride Month comes after a swath of states signed anti-transgender legislation into law — a stark reminder that there is a long way to go, advocates say. 

According to the Human Rights Campaign, the amount of anti-transgender bills introduced during the 2021 legislative session marks “the highest number” of such legislation in the history of the country. 

"Those bills are damaging, those bills are dehumanizing," HRC Executive Director Alphonso David said in an interview with The Hill.

One such bill became law in Florida on Tuesday, when Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed S.B. 1028. The bill includes a provision dubbed the "Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” which will effectively ban transgender students from taking part in womens' and girls' sports across the state. 

Soon after, the Human Rights Campaign announced their intent to sue the state of Florida over the law, noting it was signed on the first day of Pride Month and a mere 12 days after the five-year anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shooting. 

“Lawmakers across the country who support these bills have failed to provide examples of any issue in their states to attempt to justify these attacks on transgender youth, laying bare the reality that they are fueled by discriminatory intent and not supported by fact,” the campaign’s statement read in part. 

But Florida is hardly alone in introducing policies that discriminate against transgender students. At least six other governors have signed similar legislation during this session alone, including: Greg Gianforte, R-Mont. Kay Ivey, R-Ala., Jim Justice, R-W.Va., Tate Reeves, R-Miss., Bill Lee, R-Tenn. and Asa Hutchinson, R-Ark. 

One batch of bills seeks to ban transgender girls from competing on girls’ sports teams in public schools. Such measures have been enacted in Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Montana and implemented by an executive order from Gov. Kristi Noem in South Dakota.

Another batch of bills seeks to ban gender-affirming medical treatments for trans minors — including the use of puberty blockers and hormone therapy. 

Tennessee’s Gov. Lee approved legislation to ban such treatment, and Arkansas legislators approved such a measure, overriding the veto of Gov. Hutchinson. Similar measures are pending in Alabama and Texas.

The biggest outcry against such legislation so far has come from the private sector. There has also been a vehement outcry from supporters of transgender rights — but little in the way of tangible repercussions for those states.

In early April, the NCAA’s Board of Governors issued a statement expressing strong support for the inclusion of transgender athletes, and has threated to cancel events in states that pass transgender sports bans

“When determining where championships are held, NCAA policy directs that only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected,” the statement read in part. “We will continue to closely monitor these situations to determine whether NCAA championships can be conducted in ways that are welcoming and respectful of all participants.”

Later that same month, over 400 companies — including Tesla, Pfizer, Delta Air Lines and Amazon — signed on to support civil rights legislation for LGBTQ people that is moving through Congress. 

The letter urged the Senate to pass The Equality Act, which would amend existing civil rights law to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identification as protected characteristics. That same bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives in February by a vote of 224-206, with three Republicans joining Democrats in voting yes.

But the legislation has stalled in the equally-divided Senate, with many conservatives citing transgender participation in girls and women’s athletics as a key sticking point against voting for the bill. 

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said the House-passed legislation would “in effect repeal Title IX” by making it easier for transgender women to play on girls teams. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) said that allowing “male-bodied athletes” to compete against females would “totally undermine” girls basketball. 

Calls for the Senate to take up the bill increased on Tuesday, with many Democrats in the House urging their fellow lawmakers to do so via social media

President Joe Biden similarly called on the Senate to pass the bill and send it to his desk for signature. In a statement released Monday, where the president officially designated June as Pride Month, Biden also condemned states for actively targeting transgender youth. 

“For all of our progress, there are many States in which LGBTQ+ individuals still lack protections for fundamental rights and dignity in hospitals, schools, public accommodations, and other spaces,” the statement read in part, later continuing: “Some States have chosen to actively target transgender youth through discriminatory bills that defy our Nation’s values of inclusivity and freedom for all.”

Biden added that he continues to “call on the Congress to pass the Equality Act, which will ensure civil rights protections for LGBTQ+ people and families across our country.” 

The president also touted his own administration’s commitment to equality, writing that nearly 14% of his 1,500-plus agency appointees identify as LGBTQ+.

Biden made clear his support for the Equality Act in the lead-up to last year’s election, saying it would be one of his first priorities. He also pushed for the bill in his address to Congress last month, speaking directly to transgender Americans “watching at home, especially young people, who are so brave. I want you to know, your president has your back.”

With no Republicans signed on, for now, Democrats are unlikely to win the 60 votes needed to pass the Equality Act, potentially putting the issue in limbo indefinitely.