And their not "doing it for the kids." Their actions and their remarks make clear that's not the case.
The effects are devastating. Nearly half of LGBTQ 13- to 17-year-olds considered suicide last year, as opposed to some 19% of high school students overall, according to The Trevor Project. Eighteen percent actually attempted it. Seventy percent report anxiety, and 57% experienced depression.
Strong in-school relationships are a well-known protective factor. LGBTQ students who say their teachers care a lot about them are 37% less likely to consider suicide and 43% less likely to be depressed than those who don’t feel cared for, according to The Trevor Project.
Rates of self-harm are much lower among students who feel affirmed in school, and acceptance of LGBTQ students had risen steadily — if unevenly — following legal recognition of same-sex marriage. But the number of youth who see their schools as affirming has fallen dramatically over the last four years.
In California — where the first gay couples married in 2008 and schools began teaching LGBTQ history a decade ago — a statewide survey of students found that the number who reported hearing homophobic remarks from adults in school rose from 12% in 2019 to 49% in 2021. That’s an increase of 408%.
In Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage has been recognized for almost 20 years, the number of youth exposed to anti-LGBT remarks is up 686% over the same time frame.
A new data analysis by The 74 shows how this political wedge issue, aimed at a relatively small population of students, is having an outsize effect. The number of youth who identify as something other than cisgender is growing, but it’s still a tiny number of children.
Of the approximately 16 million high school students in the United States, an estimated 1.8 million, or 11.6%, identify as LGBTQ. Just 300,000 are gender-nonconforming.
Ten years after same-sex marriage became widely recognized, a sizeable majority of Americans are comfortable with gay, lesbian and bisexual co-workers and neighbors. Experts say it’s harder to attempt to undo LGBT rights overall than to capitalize on confusion about the experiences of a very small subset of people.
And unlike past campaigns to vilify LGBTQ people, this time, the rhetoric targets kids, not adults. Even though some of the new policies take aim at bathrooms and gymnasiums, the impact spills over to classrooms, hallways and libraries, affecting a much larger number of children.
They are bullied and assaulted; subjected to increasingly negative remarks even from teachers who are supposed to protect them; silenced from raising LGBTQ topics — even talking about their families during class discussions; discouraged from participating in sports or other activities; forbidden from wearing clothing with supportive messages or forming gay-straight alliances or other affirming student clubs; disciplined for identifying as LGBTQ and for wearing clothes deemed “inappropriate” for their gender.
Rowan Johnson learned what it meant to be transgender not from a parent or a teacher, but from Jerry Springer.
Home from school one day when they were about 8 years old, Johnson caught Springer’s often-raucous daytime talk show. “There are girls here to tell their parents they want to be boys,” Johnson recalls hearing at the top of the hour.
That’s something a person can do? Johnson thought. They had sensed already that something was different about their own gender identity but didn’t know what. “I didn’t have the words for ‘transgender’ or ‘nonbinary’ or any of this.”
Most trans adults went to school at a time when there was little or no discussion of gender identity. If the subject came up, it was on tabloid television or in schoolyard taunts rather than in conversation with caring adults. Now, as Americans debate policies that affect trans Americans, there’s disagreement over how — or whether — to broach these issues in schools.
In other words, what trans Americans say is needed appears at odds with what many Americans appear comfortable providing. That’s unsettling to the trans community at a time when gender identity has taken center stage in the culture wars and Republican lawmakers have attacked the very existence of trans people.
“If I had had the opportunity," said Johnson, "to learn that it’s normal and common to question your gender identity and to want to experiment and explore your gender identity, I think it would have saved a lot of emotional pain.”
The poll found support for teaching these issues in high school, with more than 6 in 10 saying it was appropriate. Americans were divided when asked about middle school. But at the same time, nearly 7 in 10 Americans supported laws that would bar discrimination against trans people in K-12 schools.
The company said threats against employees impacted their sense of safety and well-being, but Target did not specify which products it was removing, the nature of the threats, or where they occurred. Target said it removed from shelves “items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior.”
For a decade, Target has celebrated Pride Month in and around June. The company runs advertisements to appeal to LGBTQ customers and employees, and it sells t-shirts, coffee mugs and merchandise with rainbow flags and other symbols of gay rights.
“Pride Month at Target is a time of affirmation and solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community,” the company says on its website.
MTG says she won't buy clothes from brands which support LGBTQ Pride. She usually shops at:— Paul Rudnick (@PaulRudnickNY) May 24, 2023
- The trunks of abandoned cars
- Lauren Boebert's yard sales
- Community theater costume racks
- Estate sales of dead hoarders
- The Alcoholic Mom section at Burlington pic.twitter.com/fjfgxwQdu7
Amid recent, highly publicized conservative backlash to several corporations partnering with LGBTQ+ artists and activists, two far-right commentators are saying the quiet part loud: Their goal is to make support for the LGBTQ+ community “toxic” to brands.
On Wednesday, Matt Walsh, a host for far-right media outlet The Daily Wire and one of the most virulently anti-trans voices in the country, kicked off a tweet storm about recent calls to boycott brands like Bud Light and Target by explicitly outlining what he says has been the goal from the start.
On his own Daily Wire show, host Michael Knowles reiterated Walsh’s point. “This has been the point that has been building for months now, which is we need to make that symbol toxic, the Pride flag symbol, we need to make that toxic,” Knowles said. “We need to have companies think twice about it.”
“Everyone was talking about the Dylan Mulvaney incident as being harmful to the Bud Light brand,” he continued. “That’s true. But more importantly, it was harmful to the Dylan Mulvaney brand. Now, other companies are going to think twice before sponsoring Dylan Mulvaney because they don’t want to lose $6 billion in market cap in two days. That’s what we got to do. And then once we make these things culturally toxic or as we’re making these symbols culturally toxic, we’ve got to bring in the cavalry, we’ve got to come back in with more political force to ban some of this stuff and to say no.”
The Bud Light debacle started in early April, when the beer brand partnered with Mulvaney, a trans influencer and popular target for anti-trans trolls, sending her a one-off commemorative beer can with an image of her face on it. Transphobes both online and in the media quickly called for a boycott of parent company Anheuser-Busch’s products. The corporation’s lackluster response to the backlash drew criticism from the LGBTQ+ community and led the Human Rights Campaign to downgrade Anheuser-Busch’s previous 100 percent rating on the organization’s corporate equality index.
On Wednesday, Walsh also tweeted that, “The Bud Light boycott will prove to be one of the most significant conservative victories of this decade. It was never just about Bud Light. It was about sending a message.”
A cisgender mother helping her cis disabled son use the restroom was prevented from entering a Kansas library’s women’s restroom with him, even though they’ve done that for years. The mother thinks that the state’s recently passed anti-transgender bathroom bill is to blame, but the library has called the incident “a mishandled customer service moment.”
On May 20, Karen Wild entered a women’s bathroom in the Wichita Public Library’s central branch with her son, Ellis Dunville. She was assisting her son, who is on the autism spectrum, has a seizure disorder, and is nonverbal, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
A male security guard told her that her son couldn’t enter the restroom. Wild said they had used the women’s restroom together for years without any issues. However, she also noted that another person in the women’s restroom objected to her son’s presence.
Shortly after, a female library employee entered, said the library had policies regulating restroom use, and asked Wild if she and her son could use the building’s gender-neutral family restroom, which Wild never knew existed.
Wild told the aforementioned publication that she suspected the incident might have occurred because the legislature recently passed S.B. 180, a law that bans trans people from using bathrooms and other facilities matching their gender identity.
“There isn’t anything I can think of that has changed except that they heard about that law and decided they needed to be emboldened by it somehow,” she said. “I can’t explain it any other way.”
The Duchess of Edinburgh has become the first UK royal to visit Baghdad - as part of her work to support survivors of sexual violence in conflict.
Buckingham Palace said Sophie had spent two days in Iraq's capital to learn of the challenges women and girls face.
She visited a girls' school to hear from pupils about their education.
After meeting Iraq's women young and old, Sophie visited President Abdul Latif Rashid and prime minister Mohammad Shia Al Sudani.
She was praised for being the first member of the Royal Family to visit Baghdad by the UK's ambassador to the country, Mark Bryson-Richardson, whom she spent most of the trip with.
Sophie, who gained the title of Duchess of Edinburgh when her husband Prince Edward took on a new role in March after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, has said in the past that she is passionate about supporting women and gender equality around the world.