Pride Month: The ongoing fight for LGBTQ+ rights

Written by Emily Arismendy

The Importance of Pride

Pride began as a movement driven by brave voices filled with unwavering love and joy. It was and is a tenacious pursuit for equality, allowing queer love and life to be seen and embraced. The journey here has been long and hard-fought and continues with our current heroes leading the charge for change in courtrooms, schools, churches and other institutions across the country.

Pride has never been solely about uncomplicated joy. As we celebrate queer love and the incredible work of activists throughout the years, we also must acknowledge the work that lies ahead. Pride started as a revolution, and it continues as one. Today, LGBTQIA+ rights remain precariously won as the safety and stability of life for queer folx hangs tenuously in the balance of courtrooms across the country. Legislators regularly propose bills that chip away at the progress that’s been made and inhibit advances in protecting the rights of queer folx.

In recent years, Texas has become the epicenter of controversial legislation and bills impacting the LGBTQ+ community, particularly LGBTQ+ youth. These policies have sparked heated debates, reigniting discussions about the importance of inclusive and affirming environments for all individuals. Additionally, it is essential to reflect on the historical significance of events such as the Stonewall Riots, which laid the foundation for the modern queer rights movement.

The Significance of the Stonewall Riots

Before discussing the current situation in Texas, it is crucial to acknowledge the historical event that ignited the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement. The Stonewall Riots, which occurred in New York City in June 1969, were a series of spontaneous demonstrations by LGBTQ+ individuals against police harassment and discrimination. These riots sparked a wave of activism, leading to the establishment of LGBTQ+ advocacy groups and the first Pride March.

  1. Catalyst for LGBTQ+ Activism: The Stonewall Riots were a response to police raids on the Stonewall Inn, a popular LGBTQ+ gathering space. The uprising inspired the LGBTQ+ community and ignited a renewed sense of activism and resistance. It led to the formation of numerous LGBTQ+ organizations and became a rallying cry for equality and liberation.
  2. Visibility and Solidarity: Stonewall gave rise to the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement, propelling LGBTQ+ individuals to come forward and demand recognition and rights. It fostered a sense of unity and solidarity among diverse members of the community, transcending barriers of race, gender, and socio-economic status.
  3. Progress and Continuing Struggle: The legacy of Stonewall continues to inspire ongoing progress in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. Over the years, substantial strides have been made, including the decriminalization of homosexuality, the recognition of same-sex marriage, and increased societal acceptance. However, challenges persist, and the struggle for full equality, particularly for LGBTQ+ youth, is far from over.

Recent Legislation and Its Implications

In the state of Texas alone, there are 76 anti-queer bills filed currently. Well over half of those bills target queer youth and a third of the bills specifically target trans youth. SB-14 and several bills like it are designed to restrict access to gender affirming medical care which leaves many youth in our care with severely limited options for necessary medical attention. Here are a few current bills affecting the LGBTQ+ community in Texas:

  1. House Bill 3859: One notable piece of legislation in Texas is House Bill 3859, which permits child welfare providers to deny services to individuals based on religious beliefs. While framed as a defense of religious freedom, this bill can disproportionately impact LGBTQ+ youth by restricting their access to crucial services, including foster care, adoption, and counseling. The bill raises concerns about the welfare and well-being of vulnerable LGBTQ+ youth, potentially subjecting them to discrimination and limiting their opportunities for a supportive and loving home.
  2. Senate Bill 14: SB 14 focuses on prohibiting gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth. The bill seeks to restrict the access and availability of medical treatments and procedures that help transgender minors align their gender identity with their physical appearance. This includes interventions such as hormone therapy and surgeries. The bill also imposes penalties on healthcare providers who offer gender-affirming treatments to individuals under 18 years of age. It also requires parental consent for any medical procedures related to gender-affirming care. Furthermore, SB 14 aims to prohibit the use of government funds for such healthcare services.
  3. House Bill 890: The proposed bill seeks to impose severe restrictions on classroom discussions, teacher guidance, and school programming related to sexual orientation and gender identity throughout all grade levels, including up to 12th grade. If passed, this legislation would have far-reaching consequences for LGBTQ+ students and their access to inclusive and comprehensive education. It effectively limits open conversations about sexual orientation and gender identity, hindering the development of a safe and supportive environment for LGBTQ+ youth. It also places undue constraints on teachers who play a crucial role in fostering understanding, empathy, and respect among students.

The recent legislative actions in Texas have raised concerns about the rights and well-being of LGBTQ+ youth. It is vital to stand in solidarity with the community and recognize the historical significance of the Stonewall Riots. Pride Month serves as a reminder that the fight for equality is far from over, and it is a call to action to support and uplift LGBTQ+ youth. By advocating for inclusive legislation, providing safe spaces, and fostering acceptance, we can create a society that cherishes and protects the rights of every individual, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

SAFE’s priority is to provide all the care we can to protect and honor the humanity of all trans, non-binary, and LGBTQIA+ individuals. Though we are bound by the law and must operate within it, we believe that gender affirming care is ethical and medically sound and often is lifesaving. At SAFE, we will do whatever we can within the limits of the law to provide proper care that is respectful to the personhood of individuals of all gender identities.  Our mission at SAFE is to provide a space where people can heal and live with a sense of safety by honoring their own humanity and others. To our LGBTQIA+ staff, clients, friends and family – we see you, we support you, we celebrate you, we honor the love and light in each of you, not just this month, but every day.

Read more about anti-LGBTQ+ legislation here.