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Biden signs new LGBT executive order amid a raft of bills targeting trans youth

President Biden signed a sweeping new executive order on Wednesday that aims to protect LGBT youth from a raft of conservative state laws and address barriers they face to health care and housing. 

The order directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to release new guidance for states on how to expand access to comprehensive health care for LGBT patients, according to a White House fact sheet.

It also orders the Education Department to release a sample school policy that is inclusive of LGBT students, among other actions.  

The order aims to use the muscle of the federal government to push back on laws in states like Texas and Florida that have restricted access to health care for transgender youth and barred discussion in elementary schools about gender and sexual orientation.  

On a call with reporters, a senior administration official described those state laws as “un-American” and an attack on LGBT youth and their families.  

“President Biden always stands up to bullies and that’s what these extreme MAGA laws and policies do,” the official said, referring to former President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan that Biden has used to describe policies and rhetoric embraced by Republicans.  

“Hateful discriminatory laws that target children are out of line with where the American people are, and President Biden is going to use his authority to protect kids and families,” the official said.  

Biden signed the order in the middle of Pride Month Wednesday afternoon at a celebration in the East Room of the White House that will be attended by Cabinet officials, members of Congress and LGBT leaders and advocates.  

“My message to all the young people: just be you. You are loved. You are heard. You are understood. You do belong,” Biden said. “All of us on this stage have your back.”

Biden was introduced by Javier Gomez, a Florida teen who helped organize student walkouts over the Florida legislation that critics have deemed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.  

The actions triggered by the order, the official said, “will improve the health, wellbeing and safety of countless families across the country.” 

In signing the new order, Biden also launched a new federal government initiative to crack down on “conversion” therapy, which aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Biden, who called the practice “inhumane” and dangerous, is instructing HHS to weigh new guidance to clarify that federally-funded programs cannot offer “conversion” therapy and work to increase public awareness about the practice, as part of the new initiative.  

Additionally, the president called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to consider whether “conversion” therapy constitutes an “unfair or deceptive act or practice.”  

Biden, through the executive order, also ordered HHS to address barriers to health care for LGBT individuals and families and to work with states to promote access to gender-affirming care.  

He is also directing HHS to bolster non-discrimination practices for LGBT children in foster care; expand access to family counseling for those with LGBT youth; study how current eligibility for federal programs impacts LGBT individuals; and publish a “Bill of Rights for LGBTQI+ Older Adults” and guidance for non-discrimination of adults in long-term care facilities. 

While the actions are mostly centered at HHS, the order also instructs the Department of Housing and Urban Development to launch a new working group to address barriers to housing facing LGBT people. The Education Department will also establish its own working group on LGBT students to promote “safe and inclusive learning environments,” according to the fact sheet.  

The order also aims to provide more support to young offenders who identify as LGBT by ordering Attorney General Merrick Garland to set up a new clearinghouse at the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to provide training and resources specific to LGBT individuals.  

The senior administration official said that the new programs and actions would be funded by existing appropriations.  

Biden has made the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and protecting these groups against discrimination a focus of his administration’s overall mission to advance equality in the United States and around the globe.  

The president previously reversed a Trump-era ban on transgender individuals serving in the military, and the State Department has offered the “X” gender marker on U.S. passports.  

The president has also called on Congress to pass the Equality Act — which would ban discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity — a message he reiterated on Wednesday.

The bill passed the House last year, but stalled in the Senate, where Democrats don’t have enough votes to prevent a GOP filibuster.  

Updated: 5:05 p.m.

Tags Biden Health care Joe Biden LGBT LGBT LGBT housing inequity LGBT Pride Month LGBTQ rights LGBTQ rights transgender youth

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