Biden to greet thousands at White House Pride party

By Nandita Bose

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden will host the biggest White House Pride Month celebration in history on Thursday, in deliberate contrast to a cascade of Republican legislation and other attacks targeting LGBTQ+ people.

Biden, a Democrat, will welcome thousands to the South Lawn of the White House for an evening of celebration of LGBTQ+ families that will feature singer Betty Who and Baltimore DJ Queen HD.

Biden will also announce new measures to help schools and LGBTQ children navigate book bans, community centers combat threats, and transgender youth access better care, domestic policy adviser Neera Tanden said. .

“This year we are seeing a disturbing increase in violent threats against LGBTQ community organizations,” Tanden told reporters on a conference call. “In too many parts of our country, LGBTQ Americans are being targeted for who they are, and that, quite simply, is discrimination.”

Republican-led states have signed a series of bills targeting transgender youth; some states have banned teachers of young children from discussing gender or sexuality, and conservative lawmakers have proposed laws restricting drag performances.

In April, the White House warned that bills targeting LGBTQ children and gender-affirming care for young people were setting a dangerous precedent.

Biden’s own views on gay rights have evolved over his decades in public life. A watershed moment was his endorsement of same-sex marriage in 2012 as vice president, a move that prompted former President Barack Obama to voice his support for same-sex marriage days later.

As president, he reversed a ban on transgender people serving in the military, issued a new order to stop conversion therapy, and signed the Respect for Marriage Act, which federally recognizes transgender people. gay marriages.

American support for same-sex marriage has doubled since the late 1990s to more than 70%, according to Gallup polls, and the percentage of people who identify as LGBTQ has doubled over the past decade to more than 7 %.

The White House will announce on Thursday a new coordinator in the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights to train schools on how to navigate book bans, the impact they have on LGBTQ children, and how to which they violate civil rights laws, Tanden said.

The Department of Homeland Security will announce new training for community groups against active shooters and bomb threats; the Department of Justice will expand work with state and local law enforcement to protect the community and the Department of Health and Human Services will release a new advisory for mental health providers who support transgender children.

On Tuesday, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest LGBTQ advocacy organization in the United States, declared its first national state of emergency, citing the proliferation of anti-LGBTQ legislation in state homes across the country. country.

More than 70 bills that the HRC considers anti-LGBTQ passed through state houses this legislative session, double last year’s record and more than 500 were introduced.

Florida led restrictions on the LGBTQ community under Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, who recently entered the battle for the 2024 presidential election, challenging Biden.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington, additional reporting by Jeff Mason. Editing by Trevor Hunnicutt, Heather Timmons and Gerry Doyle)

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