Over 120 Bills Restricting LGBTQ Rights Introduced Nationwide in 2023 So Far
WASHINGTON – As the 2023 legislative session begins, politicians across the country already introduced 124 total bills restricting LGBTQ people, targeting their freedom of expression, the safety of transgender students, and access to health care for gender dysphoria.
At the center of the American Civil Liberties Union’s efforts to oppose these bills is a new digital dashboard tracking bills as they are introduced to help advocates, organizers, and allies take action. Bills attacking LGBTQ rights are assessed by ACLU legal staff, categorized by their issue focus, and regularly updated to reflect their current status.
“These bills represented a coordinated effort to deny transgender people our freedom, our safety, and our dignity,” said Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice at the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project. “Across the country, trans people and our families are gearing up to fight back and prevent every one of these bills from becoming law. The history of LGBTQ people in the U.S. shows we are hardly strangers to having our health care politicized or our safety threatened by misinformed and misguided politicians. Even in the face of such an unprecedented effort to deny our existence, we are only more determined to build the future we all deserve.”
The bills being introduced attack LGBTQ people, particularly trans youth, in seven primary areas:
- Health Care Access
- Lawmakers are targeting access to medically-necessary health care for transgender people. Many of these bills ban affirming care for trans youth, and can even create criminal penalties for providing this care. 35 bills target health care access for transgender people.
- Schools & Education
- State lawmakers are trying to prevent trans students from participating in school activities like sports, force teachers to out students, and censor in-school discussions of LGBTQ people and issues. 58 bills target LGBTQ rights in schools and educational settings.
- Free Speech & Expression
- Despite the safeguards of the First Amendment’s right to free expression, politicians are fighting to restrict how and when LGBTQ people can be themselves, limiting access to books about them and trying to ban or censor performances like drag shows. 19 bills target freedom of speech and expression for LGBTQ people.
- Access to Accurate IDs
- These bills attempt to limit the ability to update gender information on IDs and records, such as birth certificates and driver’s licenses. Four bills target the right to accurate identity documents for transgender people.
- Weakening Civil Rights Laws
- These bills attempt to undermine and weaken nondiscrimination laws by allowing employers, businesses, and even hospitals to turn away LGBTQ people or refuse them equal treatment. Seven bills seek to weaken existing civil rights laws.
- Public Accommodations
- These bills prohibit transgender people from using facilities like public restrooms and locker rooms.
- Other Anti-LGBTQ Bills
- These bills don’t quite fit in any of the other categories, but nonetheless target the rights of LGBTQ people. Examples include restrictions on marriage and bills preempting local nondiscrimination protections. Five bills target LGBTQ people and rights, including proposed amendments to define transgender people out of existence.
In 2022, the ACLU tracked a record-breaking 278 bills targeting LGBTQ people, largely focused on transgender youth. Twenty became law, including 17 aimed at restricting the rights of transgender student-athletes.
In recent years, the ACLU has challenged bills across the country restricting access to gender-affirming health care, barring trans people from updating identity documents, and denying transgender students equal access to school facilities and activities, as well as defending inclusive policies from political and legal attacks. In addition, the ACLU has protected families from a statewide effort in Texas to remove transgender youth from their parent’s custody and successfully defended bans on books by or about LGBTQ people.
For more on the ACLU’s work on LGBTQ rights, click here.
For more on anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in the 2023 state legislative session, click here.
Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.