Book bans that target the LGBTQI+ community are at the center of a set of initiatives announced by President Biden on June 8. The Biden administration announced a new initiative to fight “ongoing efforts that disproportionately strip books about LGBTQI+ communities, communities of color, and other communities off library and classroom shelves.” The President announced plans to appoint a new coordinator to address book bans implemented at state and local levels. The appointment will come from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
The new book ban coordinator will provide new training programs for schools nationwide “on how book bans that target specific communities and create a hostile school environment may violate federal civil rights laws,” according to the press release. The book ban program is one of several announced in a June 8 press release that lays out the Biden-Harris administration’s “actions to protect LGBTQI+ communities.”
However, some important details on the nature of the referenced book bans are consistently missing from the press release. It is true parents are questioning the wisdom of including certain sexually explicit materials in classrooms and school libraries. However, the vast majority of those requests refer to books that include inappropriate sexual content for minor children.
In some cases, teachers put these sexually explicit materials on reading lists for children in the name of inclusivity. The press release also fails to mention that several Dr. Seuss books were pulled from publication during this same administration “because they contain racist and insensitive imagery.” No one in the Biden administration said a word about the removal of those well-loved childhood books when it was announced in March 2021.
— NONBidenary (@KellyLMcCarty) June 13, 2023
In addition to addressing book bans, Biden will also launch several programs that allegedly protect the safety and rights of the LGBTQI+ community. Among these programs will be a new LGBTQI+ Community Safety Partnership with the Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department serving as a liaison with the LGBTQI+ community.
An HHS program features a Behavioral Health Care Advisory on Transgender and Gender Diverse Youth. This program will strengthen mental health resources by releasing federal funding for LGBTQI+ youth who are homeless or in foster care. The program stresses Gender-Affirming Care for Youth.
The HHS program for youth mirrors several bills being considered in California, one of which could require a child to be removed from foster care families who refuse to affirm the gender claimed by the child. Many Californians see the bill as discriminatory against Christian families whose views contradict gender-affirming care. HHS released $1.7 million in federal funding for an LGBTQI+ Family Support Grant for programs that address mental health risks for LGBTQI+ youth. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is also initiating a program to help homeless LGBTQI+ youth.
Threat Prevention: CISA and DHS In Charge of Training Communities
The Community Safety Partnership program includes the implementation of Federal threat monitoring supported by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) will be responsible for training programs for LGBTQI+ community organizations—” including community centers, small businesses, and Pride festivals—to help them prevent and respond to threats.” CISA’s 2022-2026 DEIA Strategic Action Plan can be found here on its website. Safety first!
DHS will also host bi-monthly threat briefings “on the threat landscape,” reviewing “key indicators of violence.” DHS workshops will help community organizations secure funding for “physical security and threat prevention.” DHS and HHS will also train health providers and medical associations in safety measures while caring for LGBTQI+ patients.
In addition, U.S. Attorneys’ offices, FBI Field Offices, DOJ’s Community Relations Service (CRS), and the Civil Rights Division will undergo training to identify and report hate crimes and “hate-fueled violence” directed at LGBTQI+ individuals. The CRS programs and services feature a United Against Hate initiative to improve the reporting of hate crimes and “build community trust.” The program is slated to expand to all 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices by September 2023.
Working hand in hand with LGBTIA+ communities, CRS addresses hate crime incidents and concerns. Discover our services and join our efforts to end hate & bring people together: https://t.co/qTHCkTsd0K #Pride2023 pic.twitter.com/UzAnIeRebU
— DOJ CRS (@DOJ_CRS) June 13, 2023
Biden White House LGBTQI+ Policies Transform American Culture
The Biden administration works closely with GLSEN and other LGBTQ organizations to train in “best practices” for inclusive and affirming curricula in schools nationwide. This is not the first time the Biden administration has advanced efforts on behalf of the LGBTQI+ community. He signed a “historic executive order (14075) advancing LGBTQI+ equality in June 2022.”
Biden also released the “first-ever Federal Evidence Agenda on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI+) Equity in January 2023.” The report “provides a roadmap” for federal agencies to “create a data-driven and measurable sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) data to help assess, improve, and monitor the health and well-being of LGBTQI+ people over time.” Work on the SOGI agenda began with recommendations from the Equitable Data Working Group in Jan. 2021. The Working Group was initiated to address the needs of underserved communities under Biden’s Executive Order 13985 on Jan. 20, 2021. Biden’s LGBTQ initiatives have arguably been transformative to American culture.
Biden’s announcement on plans to further support the LGBTQI+ community came on the heels of Saturday’s “Pride Month” kick-off event at the White House. The event featured the progress pride flag hanging front and center on the White House, moving the American flag to the side. Some argued the proper protocol would have been to hang the American flag in the central position, higher than the progress pride flag. Technically, protocol was followed because an American flag was flying on a pole in a prominent position on the roof of the White House.
Among the celebrants in Saturday’s festivities was a transgender woman, Rose Montoya, who went topless while celebrating “her overwhelming trans joy” on White House grounds. Montoya later apologized, saying he had “no intention to create a situation that would lead to harassment and harm to myself and others, nor for trans joy.” First Lady Jill Biden stated in her remarks that the celebration was meant to “find joy” and “celebrate the beauty and resilience” of the embattled LGBTQ community. A White House official denounced Montoya’s behavior, perhaps due to public outrage.