News, The Reach

The LGBTQ+ Reach: July 20-26, 2023

Hold My (not Bud Light) Beer

Not to be outdone by the seven Attorneys General warning Target that its Pride line may violate their states’ new anti-LGBTQ+ laws just two days before, U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) sent his own letter to Target — this one calling their efforts to increase Black employment and investment in Black-owned businesses racially discriminatory and threatening “significant and likely costly litigation” if they fail to end “race-based employment and partnership practices.”

On Tuesday of this week Cotton doubled down on the narrative, announcing in a press release that his office had sent a letter to 51 leading corporate law firms, pressuring them to advise their clients not to engage in “race-based employment practices” in advance of anticipated “investigations and litigation.”

Fly The Unfriendly Skies With Marjorie

U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) introduced amendments to the Federal Aviation Act reauthorization that would ban any initiatives related to LGBTQ+ inclusion, claiming they “strike out DEI/LGBTQ/Trans initiatives that make our sky’s [sic] less safe.” Taylor Greene said Pride Month and Trans Awareness Week posts on social media “promote people’s sexual identity with our tax dollars,” and said that “LGBTQ content… should have no place in our aviation administration.”

Taylor Greene had a different take when it came to gender-neutral language recommended by the FAA committee. “I don’t see any need or concern for gender-neutral language with the FAA,” she said, ostensibly because, though inappropriate to post rainbows on social media, airlines must constantly refer to people based on their genitalia, even if wholly irrelevant to the subject being discussed.

18 GOP Attorneys General Demand Medical Record Access

Republican Attorneys General of 18 states (Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah) sent the Biden administration a letter on Monday demanding access to medical records for any state residents that seek newly-outlawed abortion or gender-affirming care in states that allow them.

In late May of this year, I told readers that recent anti-LGBTQ+ legislation had been used in Texas to open Child Protective Services investigations into at least five families with a trans child, as any care recognizing their trans identity had been made inherently illegal. I also reported that, right here in Northern Virginia, “parents of trans kids are preparing custodial guardianship paperwork so that, if they are arrested, their children are legally evacuated out of Virginia and into D.C.”

This is a part of that. Over the course of the primary, I had several detailed conversations with multiple trans folks and parents of trans youth, and the consensus was that things were about to get bad for them. Even in Virginia. Even after being mostly spared this year.

The primary concern was that Virginia would, if Republicans were to gain control of the Senate, try to punish parents for accepting their LGBTQ+ children — and seeking any form of affirming care, whether it be allowing them to use their preferred pronouns, sending them to an affirming therapist, or seeking medication or surgery related to their gender — and try to arrest them and send their kids to “conversion therapy,” which is proven to be, plainly, child abuse.

Similar concerns have been expressed about women seeking abortion care across state lines, which in part prompted the Biden administration to amend the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to shield the records seeking banned reproductive services in states that allow them.

The recent letter from the Attorneys General is a sign that, indeed, these concerns were justified.

Reminder: Virginia Is Almost Florida

Please remember that nearly identical legislation was introduced here in the Commonwealth (12 bills in total), and a single-vote majority in the Virginia Senate remains the only reason we aren’t fully roped in with Florida (whose Governor recently yelled “we don’t want you indoctrinating our children. Leave our kids alone” to a protester who was holding a pride flag, and is currently at war with a cartoon mouse for being too inclusive).

Queer people haven’t survive unscathed in Virginia. The Youngkin administration issued updated Model Policies on Tuesday that further reversed policies protecting trans kids, including new rules requiring schools to segregate sports based on sex, not gender or gender identity, already demanded that schools “out” students to parents, and use the wrong bathrooms. The policies aren’t binding, thankfully, and up in Northern Virginia there hasn’t been any interest in adopting them.

The entire Virginia legislature is up for election this November. Please take your vote seriously; for many, quite a bit is at stake.