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    President Biden’s Executive Order Granting LGBTQ Protections

    By Dr. Marcy Adelman–

    Timed for Pride Month 2022 and primarily directed at the anti-LGBTQ state measures that are an assault on the safety and civil rights of LGBTQ children, President Biden signed an executive order on June 15, 2022, granting protections and supports for LGBTQ children, especially trans children and their families, as well as actions supporting and protecting LGBTQ older adults.

    The executive order directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to work with the states to expand gender-affirming care, increase access to family and youth mental health counseling, strengthen non-discrimination protections in the foster care system, and clarify that federal funded programs cannot be used for conversion therapy. HHS is also charged with expanding LGBTQ youth access to suicide prevention resources to help prevent youth suicides. 

    Two new policy groups were ordered, one in the Department of Housing and Urban Development in LGBTQ Homelessness and Housing Equity to reduce barriers to housing for LGBTQ people, and the other in the Department of Education to promote safe and inclusive learning environments for LGBTQ students and families.

    The President’s executive order also acknowledges the challenges that LGBTQ older adults face with respect to discrimination, isolation, and poverty, and directs HHS to publish a “Bill of Rights for LGBTQ older adults and new guidance on the nondiscrimination protections for older people in long term care settings.”

    HHS is also charged with “exploring new rulemaking to establish that LGTBQ individuals are included in the definition of populations of ‘greatest social need’ under the Older Americans Act.” The executive order expands federal data collection on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) by establishing a new federal coordinating committee on SOGI data to expand data collection, “while safeguarding privacy protections and civil rights for LGBTQ individuals.”

    San Francisco local and state legislatures, working closely with the city’s LGBTQ advocates, played an important role in advancing these protections and supports for LGBTQ older adults. In 2015, California passed the LGBT Disparities Reduction Act that mandated several state departments collect SOGI data. At the time, California was just the second state in the nation to enact such legislation. The collection of SOGI data is essential to developing smart policies, creating effective services, and securing funding for those services.

    The first LGBT Senior Care Facilities Bill of Rights in the country was passed in San Francisco in 2015. Two years later, San Francisco passed the LGBT Data Collection Ordinance. Both legislations had previously been recommended by the San Francisco LGBT Aging Policy Task Force.

    In the executive order, Biden reiterates his support for the Equality Act that provides non-discrimination protection for LGBT people. This act would replace the less comprehensive state anti-discrimination laws with a federal anti-discrimination law, consistent across the country, with full protection in all areas of life from employment, housing, etc. The Equality Act. passed in the House, doesn’t have the votes to succeed in the Senate.

    There is much in the President’s executive order to be grateful about. It comes at a time when the safety and civil rights of LGBTQ youth and their families are under attack. Our community needs and welcomes these federal supports. But we know how easy it is to lose ground in this battle and that the closer we get to achieving full equality, the fiercer the push back. This Pride, as always, be relentless. 

    For more information concerning the Executive Order Advancing Equality for LGBTQI+ Individuals:

    Dr. Marcy Adelman, a psychologist and LGBTQ+ longevity advocate and policy adviser, oversees the Aging in Community column. She serves on the California Commission on Aging, the Board of the Alzheimer’s Association of Northern California, the California Master Plan on Aging Equity Advisory Committee, and the San Francisco Dignity Fund Oversight and Advisory Committee. She is the Co-Founder of Openhouse, the only San Francisco nonprofit exclusively focused on the health and well-being of LGBTQ+ older adults.

    Published on June 23, 2022