HRC Foundation Report Highlights Trump & Pence’s Stealth Attacks on Democracy & the LGBTQ Community

Today, HRC Foundation released a new report, Trump’s Administrative Abuse and the LGBTQ Community, highlighting the Trump-Pence administration’s highly unusual and abusive efforts to quietly roll back critical protections, programs and services for the LGBTQ community by bypassing longstanding administrative policies and customs for instituting such changes.

“Under the Trump-Pence administration, federal agencies have ignored long-standing guidelines for engaging the public in  policy changes specifically targeting the LGBTQ community and in some instances have failed to report changes all together,” said HRC Associate Legal Director Robin Maril. “This stealth effort by Trump-Pence to disregard the legal safeguards in place to promote consistency and public accountability is undermining public trust and fostering an atmosphere of anxiety and skepticism.”

The new HRC Foundation report details the Trump-Pence administration’s concerted effort to ignore longstanding policy and customs — including those calling for 30- to 90-day public comment periods for most rulemaking. The administration has released a series of complex, high-impact rules with appallingly brief public comment periods — some allowing just days for interested and affected parties to weigh in.

In March, for example, the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Administration for Community Living (ALC) failed to announce it had removed a crucial question about sexual orientation from the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants (NSOAAP), an annual national survey of recipients of select services under the Older Americans Act (OAA). Following an outcry from advocates including HRC, HHS finally issued an announcement correction — but refused to extend the public comment period.

Additionally, the Trump administration has been pushing major and controversial regulation changes affecting LGBTQ people though interim final rules (IFRs), which allow changes to become effective immediately, without public comment. Before Trump was elected, this process was reserved for urgent changes and was rarely used for complex or controversial regulations except in emergencies. In May, Trump proposed an IFR that could strip millions of women and LGBTQ people of access to critical contraceptive care previously guaranteed under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Vox reported on a leaked draft of the proposal that would allow employers — including for-profit companies —  to refuse to provide insurance coverage of birth control on the basis of religious or moral objections.

Also detailed in the HRC Foundation report is Trump’s reliance on social media platforms like Twitter to announce presidential intent, reflecting not only disrespect for the process and the people affected by his pronouncements, but also a dangerous misunderstanding of the limits of his own power. Trump’s unconscionable tweets asserting his intention to bar qualified transgender people from serving their country in the U.S. Military are a prime example of this undemocratic power grab.

Tweets can’t make policy. They don’t carry the force of law, and, as we have seen by Trump’s recent actions, they do not provide federal agencies and their staff with the vision and guidance required to implement policy. Unfortunately, what tweets can do is incite anxiety, undermine the real and valuable daily work of the federal government, and contribute to a corrosive and divisive political atmosphere.

Read the full report, Trump’s Administrative Abuse and the LGBTQ Community, here.

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HRC: New Senate Proposal Jeopardizes Health Coverage for Millions of Americans

HRC responded to the latest draft of the Senate’s so-called “health care” bill. While the Congressional Budget Office has yet to score this version of the legislation, a previous projection estimated the legislation will result in 22 million Americans losing their health insurance by 2026 — with 15 million losing their insurance by the end of next year.

“Today, Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell released a new draft that would still rip health care from millions of people, with a particularly devastating impact on low-income senior citizens, women, children, LGBTQ people, and people living with HIV,” said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy. “Any health care proposal should improve the lives of individuals — not put them at risk. This version of the bill is just as bad as the previous ones. With people’s lives on the line, we urge the Senate to stop this madness and reject this harmful piece of legislation.”

Like the prior versions, the most recent bill undermines core provisions of the landmark Affordable Care Act (ACA). As a result of the ACA, thousands of low-income people living with HIV have been able to obtain health insurance through the Medicaid expansion. This critical coverage ensures that people living with HIV have access to lifesaving treatments. The bill’s drastic changes to Medicaid will likely strip these people, and other vulnerable populations, of essential healthcare coverage.

Beyond repealing these key provisions of the ACA, the bill would also cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which could jeopardize the ability of clinics to deliver preventive health services, including HIV testing and transition-related care. The ACA’s public health and prevention fund, established to expand investments in the nation’s public health infrastructure, would also be repealed. Health centers, like those operated by Planned Parenthood, often offer the only culturally competent healthcare available, especially in rural and isolated areas.

In considering the ACA in 2009 and 2010, the House held 79 hearings over the course of a year, heard from 181 witnesses and accepted 121 amendments. The current House leadership has moved this unacceptable repeal and replacement legislation through the House in a matter of weeks. The Senate adopted the ACA only after approximately 100 hearings, roundtables, walkthroughs and other meetings, and after 25 consecutive days in continuous session debating the bill.

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U.S. Supreme Court Remands and Vacates Gavin Grimm Case

Today, HRC responded to the news that the Supreme Court of the United States will not hear the case of G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board this term. Gavin Grimm, a transgender boy, filed suit against the school board alleging it violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 by denying him use of the boy’s restroom.

“The Supreme Court of the United States sent this case back to the Fourth Circuit as a direct result of the Trump Administration rescinding school guidance protecting transgender students. Now, thousands of transgender students across the country will have to wait even longer for a final decision from our nation’s highest court affirming their basic rights,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “To be clear, transgender students are covered by Title IX and are entitled to the same rights and protections as every other student. But while this plays out in our courts, we are deeply concerned about the consequences this could have for transgender students, who may not be aware of their rights or be subject to increased discrimination by others who feel emboldened by the Trump Administration’s recent actions. Now more than ever it is crucial for all of us to affirm to transgender students that they are equal, they are valued, and there are millions of people across our country who will have their backs, no matter what.”

Today, the Supreme Court sent the Grimm case back to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals following the Trump Administration’s decision to rescind protective school guidance for transgender students. Because the Fourth Circuit’s original ruling was heavily based on the Obama Administration’s guidance,  the Supreme Court has asked the lower court to revisit the case and rule on the underlying statutory question regarding the scope of Title IX.  Title IX prohibits discrimination against transgender students including with respect to restroom access regardless of the guidance.

In June, a federal court ordered the Gloucester County School Board to allow Grimm full access to the restroom that corresponds with his gender identity, consistent with a ruling from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. In August, the Supreme Court of the United States halted the lower court’s order, allowing the school board’s discriminatory policy to remain in place while the court awaited an application by the school board to have its full appeal heard.

48 hours after Jeff Sessions was confirmed as Attorney General and a day after being sworn in, the Department of Justice moved to eliminate the Obama Administration’s challenge to a nationwide injunction against enforcement of the guidance, allowing the nationwide hold to continue. Despite this action, transgender students facing discrimination can still file suit under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

Allowing transgender people to access facilities consistent with their gender identity — something compelled for years by laws in 18 states as well as embraced by hundreds of cities and school districts around the country — has not resulted in problems. On the other hand, forcing transgender students to use sex-segregated facilities contrary to their identity can impose real harm on transgender students, further compounding the discrimination and marginalization they already face.

A recent study correlated the high suicide rates of transgender students with discriminatory bathroom restrictions, and, according to the Youth Suicide Prevention Program, more than 50 percent of transgender youth will have had at least one suicide attempt by their 20th birthday.

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New Survey of 50,000+ Young People Reveals Troubling Post-Election Spike in Bullying & Harassment

Today, HRC Foundation released the results of a groundbreaking post-election survey of more than 50,000 young people ages 13-18 revealing the deeply damaging fallout the November election has had on youth across the United States.

The online survey, believed to be the largest ever of its kind, found that 70 percent of respondents have witnessed bullying, hate messages or harassment since the election, with racial bias the most common motive cited. More than a quarter of LGBTQ youth said they have been personally bullied or harassed since Election Day — compared to 14 percent of non-LGBTQ youth — with transgender young people most frequently targeted. Additionally, Hispanic and Latinx respondents were 20 percent more likely than other youth to report having been personally bullied, with harassment targeting both immigrant and nonimmigrant communities.

“Whether the threats come in their schools or from those holding the country’s highest offices, no young person should be bullied or made to feel unsafe,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “The alarming results of this groundbreaking survey underscore our fears about the damaging effect the recent election is having on our nation’s youth, and serve as a call to action to all of us committed to helping our young people thrive in an inclusive and supportive society.”

Vast numbers of young people also reported feeling nervous and hopeless post-election, with almost half of LGBTQ youth saying they have taken steps to hide who they are by delaying coming out, dressing differently or questioning their plans for the future. Hispanic and African American young people also reported changing their appearances and routines out of fear of harassment, and Muslim, Jewish and Hindu youth all described concealing symbols of their faith to avoid being targeted.

In responses to open-ended questions on the survey, many young people shared heart-wrenching stories of how the vicious campaign rhetoric had encouraged harassment and bullying. Wrote one Hispanic 18-year-old from Illinois, “My family and I go shopping and wash clothes at 2 a.m. to avoid seeing and hearing people’s comments.” A transgender youth from Idaho wrote that they and a Latinx friend were confronted at school by a fellow student who said, “Donald Trump is gonna deport wastes of space like you, and hopefully he does something about freaks like you too.”

Findings include:

  • Seventy percent of respondents reported witnessing bullying, hate messages or harassment during or since the 2016 election. Of those, 79 percent said such behaviors have been occurring more frequently since the onset of the presidential campaign.
  • Among young people who reported seeing bullying and harassment, 70 percent had witnessed incidents motivated by race or ethnicity, 63 percent had seen incidents motivated by sexual orientation, 59 percent had seen incidents motivated by immigration status, and 55 percent had witnessed incidents motivated by gender.
  • Over the past 30 days, about half of transgender youth reported feeling hopeless and worthless most or all of the time, and 70 percent said that these and similar feelings have increased in the past 30 days. Thirty-six percent had been personally bullied or harassed, and 56 percent had changed their self-expression or future plans because of the election.
  • Before Election Day 2016, more than half of survey respondents reported thinking about  the election every day, and a third thought about it several times each week.

In one encouraging finding, despite widespread post-election fear and anxiety, young people said they are more committed than ever to supporting others who are targeted for discrimination and harassment. Fifty-seven percent said that since Election Day, they more frequently feel motivated to help people in their community.

Wrote one 15-year-old from North Carolina: “The best way for adults to reassure youth, especially minorities, is to get involved in the community and take action to make the world a better place, whether it is through volunteering at a homeless shelter, working on a campaign, or something else. Actions speak louder than words.”

Respondents were solicited through HRC’s social media channels and those of partner organizations, including Mental Health America, the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Southern Poverty Law Center, True Colors Fund and The Trevor Project.

To acknowledge the very real fears young people are experiencing, and help them cope with the fallout from the election, HRC is recommending five things you can do today to support LGBTQ youth. Find the list here. Read the full survey results here.

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HRC Report Finds Opponents of LGBTQ Equality Are Ramping Up State Efforts to Sanction Discrimination

Despite significant progress over the last decade, many states are targeting the LGBTQ community with discriminatory legislation, according to a report released today by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization. The report comes just a week after North Carolina’s Governor Pat McCrory conceded defeat in his re-election bid after signing and championing the notoriously anti-LGBTQ HB2 — becoming the only incumbent governor to lose this fall.

HRC’s State Equality Index (SEI), issued in partnership with the Equality Federation, the national partner to state-based equality organizations, also reveals that in many states, opponents of equality are ramping up efforts to sanction discrimination against LGBTQ people by proposing state-level laws that would undermine existing protections, erode marital rights of legally-married same-sex couples, target transgender people — particularly youth — and limit the ability of cities and towns to pass their own inclusive laws. This coming year, HB2-style, anti-LGBTQ legislation are expected in several legislatures, including Texas, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Arkansas. Potentially dozens of discriminatory bills are expected in the State of Texas alone.

“State governments have a clear choice between sowing the seeds of division and discrimination or building an economy that works for everyone by fostering fairness and inclusion,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Unfortunately, too many lawmakers have decided to target LGBTQ people for state-sanctioned discrimination and to interfere with local protections for workers, customers, and residents. Now more than ever, it is crucial that legislators across the country stand on the right side of history and ensure full equality for all their citizens – nothing more and nothing less.”

During the 2016 legislative sessions, more than 200 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced in states across the country. While the vast majority of harmful bills were defeated this year, states such as Mississippi and North Carolina did adopt discriminatory legislation. Mississippi’s HB 1523 grants a wide-ranging license to discriminate against LGBTQ people and North Carolina’s HB 2 forbids many transgender people from accessing shared facilities in accordance with their gender identity, among other discriminatory components.

In both instances, federal judges have blocked enforcement of parts of those bills. In North Carolina, the backlash against several elected officials who championed HB2 demonstrated that supporting anti-LGBTQ bills is a political liability.

While more than 111 million people live in states where LGBTQ people lack clear state-level protections against discrimination in the workplace, the SEI points to a few encouraging signs — particularly in areas related to LGBTQ youth, health and safety. States like Vermont and New York took steps to protect LGBTQ youth by banning conversion therapy. Massachusetts expanded the state’s non-discrimination law to include gender identity in public accommodations. Hawaii passed a law to make it easier for transgender residents to update their name and gender marker on a birth certificate or driver’s license. Five states, including Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan and Pennsylvania banned transgender exclusions in health care insurance, a sizable increase from 2015.

“Last year our community faced a barrage of attacks on our freedoms, but we are more united and better prepared than ever to continue our momentum toward equality for all,” said Rebecca Isaacs, executive director of Equality Federation Institute. “This report serves as an important tool for advocates to keep pushing forward. We’re not going to stop until all LGBTQ people and their families are able to reach their full potential, free from discrimination, no matter what state they live in.”

The SEI assesses statewide LGBTQ-related legislation and policies — both positive and negative — in five areas: parenting laws and policies, non-discrimination laws and policies, hate crimes laws, youth-related laws and policies and health and safety laws and policies. Based on that review, the SEI assigns states to one of four distinct categories.

Nine states and the District of Columbia are in the highest-rated category, “Working Toward Innovative Equality
California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington

These states and the nation’s capital have robust LGBTQ non-discrimination laws covering employment, housing and public accommodations, as well as protections in the areas of credit, insurance and jury selection. Most allow transgender people to change official documents to reflect their gender identity, and almost all bar private insurers from banning transition-related healthcare. LGBTQ youth are protected by anti-bullying laws, as well as innovative measures in some states that address conversion therapy, inclusive juvenile justice policies, homelessness and sexual health education.

Seven states are in the category “Solidifying Equality
Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey and Rhode Island

These states have non-discrimination protections and are considered high-performing, but have not yet adopted innovative equality measures. Many of these states allow transgender individuals to change gender markers on official documents and more than half do not allow second-parent adoption. These states have relatively robust anti-bullying laws, but bad laws begin to crop up in this category.

Six states are in the category “Building Equality
Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Utah and Wisconsin

These states have taken steps toward more robust LGBTQ equality, including passing basic non-discrimination and hate crimes laws. They allow gender markers to be changed on official documents, but have few protections guaranteeing access to transgender health care. Some lack explicit gender identity protections and several lack comprehensive anti-bullying laws. Bad laws are more common, so advocates are working to stop bills that could undermine LGBTQ equality and pass more comprehensive non-discrimination laws.

Twenty-eight states are in the lowest-rated category “High Priority to Achieve Basic Equality
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming

Most of these states, including Arizona, North Carolina, South Dakota and Florida, have many laws that undermine LGBTQ equality, from those that criminalize HIV and sodomy, to measures allowing religious-based discrimination against LGBTQ people. None have non-discrimination laws that explicitly include sexual orientation or gender identity protections; few have hate crime laws with those protections. LGBTQ advocates largely work to defeat bad bills and pass municipal protections for LGBTQ people.

The full report, including detailed scorecards for every state, as well as a comprehensive review of 2016 state legislation, is available online at www.hrc.org/sei

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HRC Slams Disgraced Roy Moore’s Desperate Attempt to Undo His Suspension from Alabama Supreme Court

HRC today slammed suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore for his last-ditch appeal to the Alabama Court of the Judiciary to restore his salary and ability to participate in legal decisions.

“This is the desperate final act of Roy Moore’s failed campaign to restore his position on the Alabama Supreme Court after flagrantly and willfully attempting to block marriage equality at every turn,” said Eva Kendrick, state manager for the Human Rights Campaign, Alabama. “Roy Moore is wasting the court’s time and Alabama taxpayer money, and we urge members of the Court of the Judiciary to stand by their decision.”

In September, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary suspended Moore from the bench for the remainder of his term, due to his unethical and extralegal actions surrounding marriage equality. The decision allowed Moore to remain on the bench, but stripped him of his salary and ability to participate in the court’s legal decisions. Moore’s term is up in 2018, and he will be unable to run for the office of Supreme Court justice again in Alabama as he will be past the office’s age restriction. The nine-member Court of the Judiciary found Moore unanimously guilty of all six charges brought against him.

Earlier this year, HRC Alabama initiated the #NoMoore campaign to remove Moore from the Alabama Supreme Court for his blatant legal and ethical failings. HRC Alabama called out Moore’s discriminatory behavior with a billboard in downtown Montgomery, and held rallies and press conferences outside each of Moore’s ethics hearings. This marks the second time Moore has faced negative consequences for pushing his personal agenda from the state’s highest court.

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