President Joe Biden issued an executive order Wednesday that focuses on LGBTQ+ health, an effort intended to counter discriminatory legislative attacks on the LGBTQ+ community by Republican-controlled states, he said.
The order, for example, takes aim at conversion therapy – the discredited practice that tries to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity – while supporting gender-affirming surgery and expanding foster care protections for gay and transgender parents and children.
Hinder anti-LGBTQ+ laws
The order, which will tap into money allocated to federal agencies rather than require additional funding, is meant to hinder more than 300 anti-LGBTQ+ laws that have been introduced at the state level during the past 12 months, Biden said during signing at The White House, which was televised live.
The gathering is part of the Biden administration’s recognition of LGBTQ+ Pride Month.
“All of you in this room know better than anyone that these attacks are real and consequential for real families,” the president said before sitting to sign the order.
As an example, he mentioned the arrest last weekend of 31 members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front near an Idaho LGBTQ+ Pride event.
“It shouldn’t take courage to be yourself,” Jill Biden said. “We know that in places across the country, like Florida or Texas or Alabama, rights are under attack. And we know that in small towns and big cities, prejudice and discrimination still lurk.”
Jill Biden was criticized last week for publicly praising former first lady Nancy Reagan during a press conference about an upcoming postage stamp that will feature Reagan.
Executive order details
Here are some specifics from the order.
- Department of Health and Human Services will create policies to expand care to LGBTQ+ families
- Department of Education will draft rules to better protect LGBTQ+ students in public schools.
- Bolster programs to address suicide among LGBTQ+ children
- Make adoptions easier for LGBTQ parents and children.
- Create a federal working group to combat LGBTQ+ homeless
- Create a federal working group to promote educational policies for states and school districts that encourage inclusive learning environments for LGBTQ+ children
- Establish rules to discourage conversion therapy, though efforts to enforce bans against it in places where state law allows the practice will rely on legal challenges from outside the White House
The president, first lady, and Vice President Kamala Harris attended a crowded reception in the White House’s East Room. The adjacent hallway was decorated in rainbow colors.
LGBTQ+ activists, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress, and top administration officials, including Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who adopted twins with his husband, Chasten also hobnobbed at the event.