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U.S. lags behind other countries on LGBTQ rights

Report cards released ahead of Summit for Democracy



Cuba, Pride flag, gay news, U.S. Embassy, Washington Blade
The U.S. Embassy in Cuba flies the Pride flag in commemoration of the 2016 International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. Report cards the Council for Global Equality and F&M Global Barometers released on Dec. 7, 2021, notes the U.S. continues to lag behind other countries in terms of LGBTQ rights. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Embassy in Cuba)

WASHINGTON — A series of report cards from the Council for Global Equality and F&M Global Barometers that rank countries on their LGBTQ rights records indicate the U.S. continues to lag behind.

The report cards rank the 110 countries that are participating in the White House’s Summit for Democracy that began on Thursday. They specifically rank the nations on 30 specific benchmarks that are grouped together in three categories.

Basic Human Rights:

            – No criminalization of sexual orientation

            – No criminalization of gender identity or expression

            – Freedom from arbitrary arrest based on sexual orientation

            – Freedom from arbitrary arrest based on gender identity

            – Legal recognition of gender identity

            – No physiological alteration requirement for legal gender recognition

            – No psychiatric diagnosis requirement for legal gender recognition

            – LGBTQI organizations are allowed to legally register

            – LGBTQI organizations are able to peacefully and safely assemble

            – Security forces provide protection to LGBTQI pride participants

Protection from Violence:

            – Ban on gay conversion therapy

            – Hate crimes legislation includes sexual orientation

            – Hate crimes legislation includes gender identity

            – Hate crimes legislation includes sex characteristics

            – Hate speech laws include sexual orientation

            – Hate speech laws include gender identity

            – Equality body mandate exists

            – Prohibition of medically-unnecessary non-consensual medical interventions on intersex individuals

            – Gender affirming prison accommodations

            – Asylum for LGBTQI individuals is available within the country

Socio-Economic Rights:

            – Workplace non-discrimination laws include sexual orientation

            – Workplace non-discrimination laws include gender identity

            – Workplace non-discrimination laws include sex characteristics

            – Fair housing non-discrimination las include sexual orientation

            – Fair housing non-discrimination laws include gender identity

            – Head of state supports marriage equality

            – State allows for marriage equality

            – State prohibits discrimination in health care based on sexual orientation

            – State prohibits discrimination in health care based on gender identity

            – Legal classifications, such as an X sex or gender marker, universally available

The U.S. scored 70 percent on the “Basic Human Rights” benchmarks, 30 percent on the “Protection from Violence” benchmarks and 50 percent on the “Socio-Economic Rights” benchmarks.

Malta scored 100 percent on all three sets of benchmarks. Uruguay received a 100 percent score on the “Basic Human Rights” benchmarks, an 80 percent score on the “Protection from Violence” benchmarks and a 90 percent score on the “Socio-Economic Rights” benchmarks.

The report cards the Council for Global Equality and F&M Global Barometers released on Tuesday are based on 2020 data.

The groups will release a second set of report cards in 2022 based on new data. Council for Global Equality Chair Mark Bromley told the Los Angeles Blade the U.S. will have a higher score because the State Department will have begun to offer passports with an “X” gender marker and President Biden explicitly supports marriage equality.

The Biden administration on Thursday unveiled the Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal, which the White House describes as “a landmark set of policy and foreign assistance initiatives that build upon the U.S. government’s significant, ongoing work to bolster democracy and defend human rights globally.” Biden in a speech he delivered at the opening of the Summit for Democracy noted the initiative, among other things, includes programs that seek to empower LGBTQ people.

“We have to stand for justice and the rule of law, for free speech, free assembly, a free press, freedom of religion, and for all the inherent human rights of every individual,” said Biden.

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A Moms for Liberty leader threatens gun violence against librarians (Audio)

“[…] making librarians who make 85k a year answer to parents when we ask how sexually explicit books got into the library”



Graphic by Andrea Austria for Media Matters

By Olivia Little | WASHINGTON – Leaked audio from a Moms for Liberty meeting in Lonoke County, Arkansas, reveals a member of the chapter’s leadership flippantly threatening gun violence against librarians. 

In the audio obtained by Media Matters, the chapter’s head of communications and media, Melissa “Missy” Bosch, complained about librarians in the district, saying, “I’m telling you, if I was — any mental issues, they would all be plowed down with a freaking gun by now.”

Bosch is an Arkansas-based anti-mask activist who has since redirected that energy to her new charter school and the Moms for Liberty “parental rights” campaign that advocates for the banning of books across the country and strategically harasses school officials. 

She was made aware of the recorded audio and took to Facebook falsely claiming it was “illegally recorded” and “illegally spliced.” It wasn’t — Arkansas is a one-party consent state and Media Matters has reviewed the original recording in full. 

Bosch also threatened legal action in her post, claiming to know “some fantastic lawyers,” and she said her comments came while she was talking about “making librarians who make 85k a year answer to parents when we ask how sexually explicit books got into the library.” Bosch — along with other Moms for Liberty members — advocates for banning “pornographic books” to protect children, parroting a line right-wing media often use to target books about race and LGBTQ identity.

Yet Bosch’s hypocrisy is clearly evident since she rationalizes book bans to “protect” children while also hiring a lawyer who also represented a high-profile child sex offender. Travis Story, who represented Bosch in 2021 in a lawsuit against school mask mandates, simultaneously represented former TLC star and reported “longtime friend” Josh Duggar, who has since been convicted of “receiving and possessing child sexual abuse material.” 

As right-wing media and organizations push false and misleading claims about education policies, there has been an uptick in violence against school employees across the United States. Moms for Liberty members have also previously threatened school officials, and this incident is symptomatic of the group’s toxic campaign as a whole.

Editor’s Note: Moms for Liberty, a nonprofit claiming to advocate for “parental rights,” appears to be using parents as pawns to advance a far-right agenda.  Read more here: (LINK)


Olivia Little is a researcher at Media Matters. She holds a bachelor’s degree in law and public policy from Indiana University. Olivia previously worked as a research associate for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign.

The preceding article was previously published by Media Matters for America and is republished with permission.

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Biden executive order strengthens protections for 2 million LGBTQ+ youth

Supportive laws and policies have been linked to improved health and well-being for LGBTQ+ students according to Williams Institute research



LGBTQ Students protesting anti-LGBTQ attacks (Screenshot/YouTube KOIN CBS TV Portland, Or)

LOS ANGELES – President Biden signed an executive order Wednesday that includes actions to protect LGBTQI+ youth from conversion therapy, expand LGBTQI+ access to comprehensive health care, support LGBTQI+ youth in schools, end suicide among LGBTQI+ youth, eliminate LGBTQI+ homelessness, address LGBTQ+ discrimination in foster care, strengthen support for older LGBTQI+ adults, promote increased federal data collection of sexual orientation and gender identity, and more.

President Biden stated that the main focus of the order is protecting LGBTQI+ youth who are increasingly targets of state legislation that limits access to health care and creates unsupportive school environments. According to the Williams Institute, approximately 2 million youth ages 13-17 in the U.S. identify as LGBT, including 300,000 who identify as transgender.

A recent Williams Institute study estimated that 350,000 LGBT adults were subjected to conversion therapy as minors. Thousands of LGBT youth remain vulnerable to conversion therapy in the states that have not banned the practice.  Separate research found that lesbian, gay, and bisexual people who experienced conversion therapy were almost twice as likely to think about and attempt suicide compared to their peers who hadn’t experienced conversion therapy. 

LGBTQ+ youth often face challenges at school and home. Several Williams Institute studies have documented widespread harassment and bullying of LGBTQ+ students. Recent research finds that one-third of LGBTQ people at four-year colleges were bullied, harassed, or assaulted, compared to 19% of non-LGBTQ people.

Other studies have found high proportions of LGBTQ+ youth in foster carejuvenile detention, and among the homeless youth population. For example, one study found that 19% of youth in foster care in Los Angeles were LGBTQ—two to three times their proportion in the general population.

Supportive laws and policies have been linked to improved health and well-being for LGBTQ+ students. According to Williams Institute research, anti-bullying laws that protect youth based on sexual orientation are associated with fewer suicide attempts and stressful experiences, such as feeling unsafe at school, among students.

“President Biden’s plan signals a renewed dedication to protecting LGBTQ youth at a time when an unprecedented amount of anti-LGBTQ legislation has been introduced by states,” said Elana Redfield, Federal Policy Director at the Williams Institute. “When government agencies adopt and enforce policies that affirm LGBTQ and intersex people, it makes a concrete difference in the lives of our communities. ”

Key findings from Williams Institute research include:

Conversion Therapy

  • Nearly 700,000 LGBT people have undergone conversion therapy. An estimated 350,000 of them were subjected to the practice as minors.
  • LGB people who experienced conversion therapy were nearly twice as likely to think about and attempt suicide as their non-LGB peers. LGB people who experienced adverse childhood experiences, such as parental abuse, were more likely to have undergone conversion therapy. 

Bullying and Harassment

  • An analysis of high school students in four urban areas found that 22% of lesbian and gay youth and 11% of bisexual youth had missed school because they felt unsafe in the past month compared to 7% of non-LGB students. Gender non-conforming students reported higher levels of bullying and more school absences than other students.
  • LGBT youth in California were two to three times as likely to say they missed school because they were sad, hopeless, or anxious or because they didn’t feel safe at school in the past month than non-LGBT students.
  • One-third of LGBTQ people at four-year colleges were bullied, harassed, or assaulted, compared to 19% of non-LGBTQ people.
  • More than half (55%) of transgender people say that their mental health was not good all or most of the time while they were in higher education programs 

Foster care, juvenile detention, and homelessness

  • 19% of youth in foster care in Los Angeles County identify as LGBTQ.
  • In response to a 2014 survey, homeless youth service providers in the U.S. estimated that LGBTQ youth accounted for an average of 29% of all homeless youth served.
  • LBQ girls, particularly girls of color, are overrepresented in foster care and the carceral system. The proportion of Black and American Indian LBQ girls in foster care is four times higher than in the general population.
  • 58% of girls and 7% of boys in juvenile correctional facilities are sexual minorities. Sexual minority youth are two to three times more likely to be held in custody for more than a year compared to heterosexual youth.
  • LGBTQ youth of color in the juvenile system remain longer and face greater risk of discrimination compared to their peers.

Today’s executive order goes even further, reinforcing the administration’s commitment to serving LGBTQ people of all ages and demographics. The order;

  • instructs the Department of Health and Human Services to partner with state child welfare agencies to build capacity and prevent discrimination of LGBTQI+ people. Williams Institute research finds same-sex couples are seven times more likely than different-sex couples to be raising a foster or adopted child.
  • charges the Department of Housing and Urban Development to identify and address barriers to housing for LGBTQI+ people. LGBQ adults are twice as likely as the general population to have experienced homelessness in their lifetime. Transgender adults were six times more likely than cisgender straight people to have experienced homelessness in the past year.
  • instructs HHS to identify and address barriers to accessing federal benefits and services that could help alleviate poverty and other needs among LGBT people and families. An estimated 22% of LGBT people live in poverty compared to 16% of non-LGBT people.
  • tasks HHS with creating a Bill of Rights for LGBTQI+ Older Adults. Approximately 7% of the LGBT population is age 65+, including 171,000 people who identify as transgender.  
  • expands the federal government’s commitment to data collection on sexual orientation and gender identity.
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Study: 300,000 youth ages 13-17 identify as transgender in the US

About 0.5% of the adult US population—identify as Transgender & trans individuals are younger on average than the U.S. population



Los Angeles Blade graphic

LOS ANGELES – Approximately 1.6 million people ages 13 and older—0.6% of the population—identify as transgender in the United States, according to new estimates from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. This includes 1.4% of youth ages 13-17 (about 300,000 youth) and 0.5% of adults (about 1.3 million adults).

Transgender individuals are younger on average than the general U.S. population. Nearly one in five people who identify as transgender (18%) are ages 13-17, compared to less than one in ten (8%) who are ages 13-17 in the general U.S. population.

Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBS), and advanced statistical modeling, researchers estimated the population of adults and youth who identify as transgender nationally and in each of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia. They also provide estimates regarding gender, age, and race/ethnicity.

This report updates previous Williams Institute estimates of the transgender population released in 2016 and 2017. Results show that the percentage and number of adults who identify as transgender in the U.S. has remained steady over time. With the availability of better data, our estimate of the number of youth who identify as transgender has doubled from our previous estimate.

“Advances in gender identity data collection over the past five years have provided a more accurate picture of youth in the U.S. who identify as transgender. Previously, we could only estimate that based on adult data,” said lead author Jody L. Herman, Senior Scholar of Public Policy at the Williams Institute. “These new estimates show us that current policy debates regarding access to gender-affirming care and the ability to participate in team sports likely impact more youth than we previously thought.”


  • Of the 1.3 million adults in the U.S. who identify as transgender, 38.5% (515,200) are transgender women, 35.9% (480,000) are transgender men, and 25.6% (341,800) reported they are gender non-conforming.
  • Transgender individuals are younger on average than the U.S. population. Youth ages 13 to 17 are significantly more likely to identify as transgender (1.4%) than adults ages 65 or older (0.3%).
  • Adults and youth who identify as transgender in the U.S. reside in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Regionally,
    • 253,800 adults and 61,700 youth identify as transgender in the Northeast
    • 328,500 adults and 81,700 youth identify as transgender in the West
    • 523,600 adults and 102,200 youth identify as transgender in the South
    • 231,200 adults and 54,500 youth identify as transgender in the Midwest
  • At the state level, estimates range from 0.9% of adults who identify as transgender in North Carolina to 0.2% in Missouri. Among youth, estimates range from 3.0% who identify as transgender in New York to 0.6% in Wyoming.
  • At the national level, racial and ethnic distribution of adults and youth appear similar to the racial/ethnic distribution of the U.S. population. This study provides the first-ever population estimates of Asian and American Indian/Alaska Native adults and youth who identify as transgender.
    • White: 0.5% (731,200) of adults and 1.3% (138,800) of youth identify as transgender
    • Black: 0.6% (173,500) of adults and 1.4% (39,600) of youth identify as transgender
    • Latinx: 0.7% (289,700) of adults and 1.8% (92,900) of youth identify as transgender
    • Asian: 0.5% (77,300) of adults and 1.0% (10,800) of youth identify as transgender
    • American Indian/Alaska Native: 0.9% (14,500) of adults and 1.8% (3,000) of youth identify as transgender
    • Multiracial: 1.0% (50,900) of adults and 1.5% (15,000) of youth identify as transgender

“Better collection of data about transgender people on federal surveys is vital to understand the characteristics, experiences, well-being, and needs of the transgender population in the United States,” said study author Andrew R. Flores, Visiting Scholar at the Williams Institute. “The CDC should make the YRBS and BRFSS gender identity questions part of the core survey rather than optional questions, and the U.S. government should include questions to identify transgender people in all federal surveys.”

Read the report 
Access the data interactive

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