News (USA)

White House announces new LGBTQ+ strategy ahead of largest Pride celebration in history

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden Photo: Shutterstock

In celebration of Pride Month, the White House is going on offense.

Today the Biden administration announced “new actions to protect LGBTQI+ communities from attacks on their rights and safety,” citing an increase in anti-LGBTQ+ violence and discriminatory laws in over a dozen states “that violate our most basic values and freedoms as Americans.”

“In too many parts of our country, LGBTQ Americans are being targeted for who they are, and that, simply put, is discrimination,” domestic policy adviser Neera Tanden told reporters on a conference call.

The White House is deploying a three-part strategy in response.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will partner with the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services to form a new LGBTQI+ Community Safety Partnership, to provide safety resources to local LGBTQ+ community organizations and help them prevent and respond to threats.

The initiative includes a focus on improving relations with police, “in acknowledgment of the mistreatment that LGBTQI+ communities have often faced in interactions with law enforcement,” as well as regular threat assessments for community organizations from DHS.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will take the lead with initiatives to protect the health and safety of LGBTQ+ kids and their families. Pointing to a nationwide mental health crisis among LGBTQ+ youth, the administration will strengthen mental health resources and launch a new federal initiative to address LGBTQ+ youth homelessness.

Moreover, the administration will release federal funding to support programs that help parents affirm their LGBTQ+ kids and advance new regulations to protect LGBTQ+ youth in foster care.

The Department of Education will address the epidemic of book bans targeting LGBTQ+-themed content in schools and libraries. “Book banning erodes our democracy, removes vital resources for student learning, and can contribute to the stigma and isolation that LGBTQI+ people and other communities face,” the White House said. 

The Department’s Office for Civil Rights will appoint a new coordinator to address “the growing threat that book bans pose for the civil rights of students,” and ensure local stakeholders understand how targeting specific communities, LGBTQ+ and communities of color among them, may violate federal civil rights laws.

President Joe Biden will formally announce the initiative at this year’s White House Pride celebration, currently scheduled for Saturday. The gathering on the South Lawn — postponed from Thursday due to poor air quality — will be the largest White House Pride celebration in history.

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