Biden signs executive order with protections for LGBTQ young people

In honor of Pride Month, President Joe Biden on June 15 signed an executive order advancing equality for members of the LGBTQ community, including many protections for young people.

Aspects of the executive order include addressing discriminatory legislative attacks against LGBTQ children and families by directing agencies to protect them; safeguarding health care and programs that work to prevent youth suicide; and launching an initiative that protects foster youth, prevents homelessness and improves access to federal programs.

With more than 300 laws considered anti-LGBTQ introduced in state legislatures in the past year, many targeting transgender children and their parents/guardians, Biden has assigned the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to protect the access of this population to health care and is releasing sample policies for states with information on expanding access to comprehensive health care for LGBTQ patients.

“Because of discrimination and bullying, nearly half of LGBTQI+ youth seriously considered suicide last year. LGBTQI+ people of all ages also face significant barriers to accessing health care, and LGBTQI+ patients face significant health disparities,” a fact sheet about the executive order states.

To further safeguard health care access and address the youth mental health crisis, HSS will also work to address barriers and exclusionary policies that LGBTQ people deal with when trying to find quality, affordable, comprehensive care including for mental health, reproductive health and HIV prevention and treatment.

“The President’s Order charges HHS to work with states to promote expanded access to gender-affirming care. It also charges HHS to help prevent LGBTQI+ suicide by expanding youth access to suicide prevention resources, and to issue new guidance through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration on providing evidence-informed mental health care for LGBTQI+ youth,” according to the fact sheet.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Education will be releasing a sample school policy around achieving full inclusion for LGBTQ students and will create a working group on LGBTQ students and families to “advance policies for states, school districts, and other educational institutions to promote safe and inclusive learning environments in which all students thrive.”

As family rejection can force LGBTQ young people into homelessness and foster care — and LGBTQ parents may experience barriers to accessing government services — the executive order looks to remedy some longstanding issues.

HSS will be partnering with state child welfare agencies to improve outcomes for LGBTQ youth, promote placement of such youth into home settings that will support them and increase related training for personnel.

Access to family counseling and support programs for youth and families will also be expanded.

The Attorney General is being asked to create a clearinghouse in the Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention “to provide effective training, technical assistance, and other resources for jurisdictions to better serve LGBTQI+ youth involved in the juvenile justice system,” according to the fact sheet.