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Biden declares June LGBTQ Pride Month amid 'unconscionable attacks'

The president condemned a recent slew of "dangerous" anti-LGBTQ state laws and bills, which he said have negatively affected LGBTQ youths' mental health.
President Biden And Transportation Secretary Buttigieg Commemorate Pride Month
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden walk through the Cross Hall lit with rainbow colors after an event commemorating LGBTQ Pride Month in the East Room of the White House on June 25.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President Joe Biden declared June LGBTQ Pride Month while calling attention to "unconscionable attacks" on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex community.

"I often say that America can be defined by one word: possibilities," Biden wrote in a presidential proclamation released Tuesday, the eve of Pride Month. "This month, we celebrate generations of LGBTQI+ people who have fought to make the possibilities of our Nation real for every American."

Biden said his administration sees LGBTQ people "for who you are — deserving of dignity, respect, and support."

He condemned the recent slew of bills targeting LGBTQ people's rights considered by state legislatures nationwide. The annual number has skyrocketed in recent years. In 2018, 41 anti-LGBTQ bills were filed in state legislatures, compared to 238 in just the first three months of this year, according to an NBC News analysis conducted in March. As of May, more than 320 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

Most of the bills target transgender youth, either by restricting their participation in school sports or limiting their access to certain gender-affirming medical care. So far, 17 states have banned transgender students from participating on school sports teams that align with their gender identities, and three states have enacted measures that ban or restrict access to some transition-related care.

Some of the other legislation, such as a measure recently enacted in Florida, limits classroom discussion of LGBTQ topics, leading critics to call Florida's measure the "Don't Say Gay or Trans" bill.

Biden called the bills "unconscionable attacks" that have left "LGBTQI+ families in fear and pain." 

"All of this compounded has been especially difficult on LGBTQI+ youth, 45 percent of whom seriously considered attempting suicide in the last year — a devastating reality that our Nation must work urgently to address," he said, citing research conducted by The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ youth suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization.

He also spoke directly to trans youth, as he has in his past two State of the Union addresses: "I will always have your back as your President so that you can be yourself and reach your God-given potential."

Biden noted some of the actions his administration has taken to advance LGBTQ equality, including an executive order he issued on the first day of his presidency to expand nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people under federal laws such as the Fair Housing Act. He also issued an executive order reversing the ban on transgender people enlisting and openly serving in the military.

In April, the administration added a gender-neutral "X" option for the gender marker on U.S. passport books, and it is in the midst of changing airport security processes to make them safer for trans travelers.

But Biden said Tuesday that "there is more work to be done." He called on Congress to pass the Equality Act, which would create the first federal protections from discrimination for LGBTQ people in employment, housing, jury duty and more.

"This month, we honor the resilience of LGBTQI+ people, who are fighting to live authentically and freely," he said. "We reaffirm our belief that LGBTQI+ rights are human rights. And we recommit to delivering protections, safety, and equality to LGBTQI+ families so that everyone can realize the full promise of America."

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