The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is warning that anti-LGBTQ+ violence is rising this year as Pride Month is about to begin.
In a memo sent to law enforcement agencies on May 11, DHS said that threats of attacks from domestic extremists and hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people have increased in just the last year. It says that the increase in threats could lead to actual violence and that larger events – like Pride celebrations and healthcare sites – could be attacked.
DHS analysts cite social media chatter celebrating the mass shooting in Nashville, where a former Christian school student returned to their school and killed six people, including three children.
“These issues include actions linked to drag-themed events, gender-affirming care, and LGBTQIA+ curricula in schools,” the memo says. “High-profile attacks against schools and faith-based institutions like the recent shooting in Nashville have historically served as inspiration for individuals to conduct copycat attacks.”
The memo comes after Republicans in state legislatures across the country filed hundreds of bills this year attacking LGBTQ+ rights, particularly the rights of transgender youth. Much of the rhetoric used to support the bills painted LGBTQ+ people as threats to women and children and aggressive deviants whose existence isn’t legitimate and should be ended.
Pundits on the right have openly called for eliminating transgender people and have said that violent attacks on LGBTQ+ people are justified, all while white nationalists and neo-Nazis protesting children and their parents going to family-friendly drag events has become commonplace.
Last year saw an increase in attacks on Pride events. A study by The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) found that incidents of political violence targeting the LGBTQ+ community by July 2022 had already exceeded the total number of attacks reported in 2021. It also found that anti-LGBTQ+ demonstrations have been increasing since 2020.
Moreover, two states – Tennessee and Florida – have passed laws banning drag performances in public, leading to several cities ending either part or all of their Pride celebrations.