Politicians rolling back protections for the LGBTQ+ community have made this year’s Pride Month one to remember—for all the wrong reasons

Texas Republicans gathered over the weekend for their first in-person convention since before the pandemic. They approved many measures that are troublesome across the board, two of which are emblematic of the threats to the rights that LGBTQ+ people are experiencing across the country.


  • New language requiring homosexuality to be considered “an abnormal lifestyle choice”
  • A measure declaring gender identity disorder “a genuine and extremely rare mental health condition.” Further, all official documents must reflect “biological gender,” and gender-affirming care will be considered a form of medical malpractice. As a result, health care providers would be subject to civil penalties and fines.

Also in the new platform, a statement that President Joe Biden “was not legitimately elected,” and another requiring Texas students “to learn about the humanity of the preborn child,” coursework which includes live ultrasounds of fetuses in utero.

Some 300 anti-LGBTQ+ laws have been introduced in state legislatures over the past year, making this Pride Month a pivotal one for LGBTQ+, their friends, families, and allies.

It’s particularly fraught for transgender youth, who are a growing part of the population in the U.S., and who are at the center of increasingly ugly political battles.

Last week, President Biden signed an executive order designed to further prevent what he called “hateful attacks” by Republican lawmakers against LGBTQ+ individuals and their families. It includes provisions to prevent “conversion therapy,” a long-debunked and harmful practice, and safeguards access to health care, suicide prevention, and support for LGBTQ+ kids in foster care.

The struggle has also taken center stage in youth and elite sports.

Last May, South Carolina became one of a dozen states banning transgender students from playing girls’ or women’s sports in public schools and other institutions. 

On Sunday, FINA, the governing body for international swimming competitions, issued the strictest ban yet — saying that transgender women would not be allowed to compete unless they began treatments to suppress the development of testosterone before the onset of puberty. Rugby has banned transgender women entirely until they sort out a clear policy.

If all politics is local, then this year, it’s also personal for the LGBTQ+ community. Will voters turn out for inclusion during the midterms? GLAAD says all signs point to yes, and with more than 600 LGBTQ candidates on the ballots this year according to the LGBTQ Victory Fund, at least the conservative measures are certain to be countered in public debate.

What do you think? Should leaders weigh in on these political issues? Let me know, subject line: LGBQT+ politics.

Ellen McGirt

LGBTQ+ rights and protections are among the many issues consumers care about, and want the brands they support to take a stand on as well. Delivering for consumers and stakeholders now means going beyond the bottom line—it also includes earning and retaining trust. If you’d like to learn more about what business leaders can do to build and restore trust with their employees, consumers, and industries, then sign up for Fortune’s new newsletter, the Trust Factor, launching this Sunday, June 26. Each Sunday my colleague Jacob Carpenter will analyze the critical role of trust in corporate America, offer insight and advice from experienced experts, and provide actionable tips executives can take to build faith in their leadership and business.

This edition of raceAhead was edited by Ashley Sylla.

On point

Mennonite Church USA: We’re sorry The largest denomination of Mennonites in the U.S. has adapted its policies to be more welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community. Part of that was acknowledging that in the past, they had committed “violence to LGBTQIA people by failing to affirm their full, God-given identities and by restricting their full participation in the life, ministries, and rituals of the broader church.” The new measure, called “A Resolution for Repentance and Transformation,” was narrowly approved by delegates at a special session at the start of Pride Month.

LGBTQ+ homeownership significantly lags behind the national average, 49% versus the national average of 65%. That's a big gap. Worse, in the 25 years—ending in 2015—same-sex home mortgage applicants were 73% more likely to be denied a loan than opposite-sex couples. It might be worth thinking through some of your specialized benefits: Of the LGBTQ+ community who want to own a home, 74% are Gen X and 79% are millennials.

LGBTQ+ face a wide array of health care equity issues regardless of their access to employer-provided insurance. This in-depth piece from Northwestern Magazine does a great job of explaining why—citing data showing that nearly 60% of LGBTQ+ patients experience discrimination from their health care providers, much higher if they are transgender or gender non-conforming. This piece focuses on making health care more equitable, but it does the work by letting LGBTQ+ patients and families share their stories. 

Inclusion at work  I’m flagging this again because this global survey conducted by Deloitte does a pretty good job outlining the overall lived experience of LGBTQ+ employees in the workplace. Given where the country is politically, it’s a particularly useful tool. Overall, when a company has programs and initiatives designed on inclusion, 93% concluded that they help. But within that number are some very dark clouds. Some 53% say they don’t see any LGBTQ+ leaders who are out at work, and plenty report experiencing disrespect/microaggressions at work. A significant number are still not out at work, which also tells you something. The data is not broken down by race, which is often not possible to do with global surveys—but if you’re in a position to do so at your firm, I bet it would be instructive. Check out their best practices and a list of microaggressions that seem innocuous, until you think about them.

On Background: Yes, you should be afraid of drag queens

I recently re-watched Wigstock, the groundbreaking documentary of the once-annual glam drag fest marking the official end of the summer for the LGBTQ+ community. Released in 1995, it was particularly poignant—in the strange cultural petri dish of post-trickle-down economics, workable HIV drug protocols, and easing Cold War tensions (weird list, I know) it seemed like a safe time to take a pose and declare their joy. Conservatives get a call-out at the 7-minute mark, but mostly it’s just New York in the ‘90s kind of proud, behind-the-scenes fun. 

Today, drag queens are being called a danger to kids, typically by people who have never met one. (Unless they have.) But drag bans are creeping into legislative action and political promises. Worse, a drag queen educator was recently intimidated by eight members of the Proud Boys far-right group, who stormed a library in Alameda County, Calif., and interrupted a session of Drag Queen Story Hour.

But if you dig into history, you’ll quickly find that drag has long been a powerful form of activism. There is a long list of drag queen activists to choose from—I’ll flag Marsha Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Jose Sarria—and each speaks to the urgent need for social change. It's always been a matter of life and death.

So yes, be afraid. When you come for drag queens, they will clap back and will look fabulous doing it.

Parting words

“We’re talking about kids. We’re talking about people’s lives. We’re talking about the entire state government coming down on one child in some states, three children in some states. They are committing suicide because they are being told that they’re gross and different and evil and sinful and they can’t play sports with their friends that they grew up with. Not to mention trying to take away health care. I think it’s monstrous.”

— Megan Rapinoe, Captain, OL Reign, National Women's Soccer League (NWSL)

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