By: Guest Blogger Ryan Bernsten, The Trevor Project
As we start a new year, we enter a hostile political landscape for LGBTQ young people in states across America. In 2022, 220 anti-LGBTQ bills were considered in a majority of states across the country — a record number. In 2023, this trend is set to continue, as state houses around America are considering legislation that targets LGBTQ young people, ranging from censoring LGBTQ-related curriculums and books, banning transgender student-athletes from participating in sports that match their gender identity, and criminalizing doctors and families who support youth with transgender medical care.
|Source: The Trevor Project|
These wins don’t just happen organically. They’re a result of targeted grassroots efforts of educating legislators about the real impacts and harm these policies cause. We know that to many families, the prospect of another tough year is daunting. For those new to LGBTQ advocacy, joining in to defend our young people can seem overwhelming. Our best power and momentum lies when we stay informed and work together. So, at the Trevor Project we’re making a New Year’s resolution to support advocates in state legislatures across the country who are standing up for LGBTQ youth, especially trans and nonbinary youth. We hope you’ll join us.
|Source: The Trevor Project|
As an advocate for LGBTQ rights, it’s important to stay informed about these bills and to be ready to take action to fight back against them. Here are some steps you can take to make a difference:
Stay informed: Follow news about LGBTQ issues in your state and around the country. Sign up for newsletters or alerts from organizations like The Trevor Project or the ACLU, and follow their social media accounts to stay up-to-date on the latest developments.
Get involved: Find a state or local organization that’s working to fight back against these bills. Consider joining their efforts and getting involved in their campaigns. Volunteering your time, donating money, or even just sharing information on social media can make a difference. You can find local organizations here.
Reach out to your legislators: Remember that politics is local. If you live in a state where an anti-LGBTQ bill is being considered, reach out to your state legislators and let them know how you feel. You can do this through email, phone, or even by writing a postcard or letter. Make sure to explain why the bill is harmful and why you oppose it. You can even visit them at their offices to have a face-to-face conversation with their staff. You can find your state legislator here.
Watch hearings and state legislative sessions: As these bills are being debated, they often go through a public hearing process. Find out where and when these bills are being discussed and show up or watch them online. Let the legislators know that there is an audience that doesn’t agree with these harmful bills. Remember that politicians want to be re-elected. Presence is pressure.
Educate others: One of the most powerful things you can do to protect LGBTQ young people is to speak to the people in your life about why these bills are so harmful. Visit our Resource Center to find guides and educational materials. Remember, you don’t have to have all the correct language to make a difference. You just have to speak from your heart and practice empathy. If you have a platform or writing skills, you can also contact local publications to write op-eds or letters to the editor about these issues.
The Trevor Project is fighting every day for a more inclusive world for LGBTQ young people, but we can’t do it alone. We all have the power to change hearts and minds through people-to-people conversations, local and state advocacy, and the ballot box. Make a resolution this year to stay involved and ensure that we defeat as many of these harmful bills as possible.