Tools and Strategies

Anti-LGBTQ+ Bills that are Impacting Children, Families and Schools

Eyeglasses laying on top of a bill legislation


Did you know that there are currently more than 400 proposed bills in states across the U.S. that aim to restrict the rights, freedom and fair treatment of LGBTQ+ people? To understand more about these bills, we explore the different categories of bills, their purpose, their impact on individuals and society, and how to address this trend of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. 

What is anti-LGBTQ+ legislation?

Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation are bills and laws that target, impact and limit the rights of LGBTQ+ people. The LGBTQ+ community includes people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (and sometimes questioning), intersex, asexual, and pansexual. In general, these laws intend to restrict the rights of LGBTQ+ people and limit their ability to live safely and freely, feel included in school and society, and be treated with dignity, respect and equity. 

Over the past few years, there have been hundreds of bills introduced by state legislatures across the country. Some of those bills have become laws. (A bill is proposed legislation that is being considered by the state’s legislature. That bill becomes a law once it has been passed by the legislature and signed by the governor, or if the governor vetoes, the veto is overridden by the legislature.) Some of the laws passed in the last few years are now going into effect and impacting LGBTQ+ people and others. Many of these laws directly affect children, teenagers, parents, families, schools and educators.  

While the legislative history—the words and actions of many proposing these laws—of many of these bills is rampant with anti-LGBTQ+ hate, it is also the case that supporting one of these laws does not necessarily mean that someone is anti-LGBTQ+. Parents, coaches, teachers and others may have particular needs or concerns surrounding their children on a range of topics or issues that are not about LGBTQ+ bias or hatred. 

It may feel overwhelming to try to understand all these bills because there are so many of them, there are a variety of different types, and they are in different stages of the legislative process. You can use this map and tracker to see what laws are being proposed and passed in states across the country and learn more about each of them.  

What are the different types of bills being proposed and passed into law?

There are a wide range of laws, but most of them specifically center around the lives of young people, families, schools and educators. These include the following categories:  

  • Banning or restricting access to books that include LGBTQ+ people, themes or topics  

These laws require that libraries, including school and classroom libraries, pull and review books from shelves and book collections if there are objections to the content in the books and in some cases, all books of a certain genre or all books in general are under review. Over the past few years, a high percentage of those books are by and about LGBTQ+ people, themes and topics. These laws have also targeted books about race and Jewish history.  

  • Preventing or censoring discussions of LGBTQ+ people and topics in school 

These laws prohibit the use of curriculum about and forbid teachers from talking about topics related to sexual orientation, gender identity, and LGBTQ+ people. These laws can apply to both sex-ed and other classes and can be applied to extracurricular activities and clubs. 

  • Forcing school staff to out LGBTQ+ students 

These laws require teachers to “out” LGBTQ+ students who confide in teachers and other school staff about their sexual orientation or gender identity (“outing” is telling someone else or others about a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity without their consent). School staff, without the students’ consent, would be forced to tell the parents that the student has told them about that aspect of their identity.    

  • Allowing teachers and staff to refuse to call transgender students by the pronouns they use 

These laws restrict school employees from asking students what their pronouns are and forbid teachers and other school staff from sharing their pronouns with students if those pronouns do not correspond with their sex assigned at birth. (Sex assigned at birth refers to the label you’re given at birth based on medical factors, including your hormones, chromosomes, and genitals.) 

  • Preventing transgender and nonbinary students from using bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity 

These laws forbid transgender students (and staff) from using bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity. They require transgender students to use restrooms that match their sex assigned at birth. 

  • Preventing transgender students from participating in school sports 

These laws ban transgender student athletes from competing on school sports teams that align with their gender identity rather than the sex they were assigned at birth. Many of these laws especially focus on athletes who are transgender girls and women. There are serious discussions about the role of transgender athletes in sports; the federal government recently proposed a rule that would allow schools to block some transgender athletes from competing on sports teams that match their gender identities, while still preventing schools from enacting across-the-board bans.  

  • Restricting/preventing transgender young people from getting gender-affirming care and punishing supportive parents  

These laws prevent people, including minors, from getting gender-affirming care and place strict penalties on health care providers and sometimes parents/families who support young people seeking that care. Penalties for families may include investigating parents for child abuse and, in some states, criminal charges with potential prison sentences.  

In many states, there is not just one of type of legislation being proposed and even passed. Many states include several or more of these laws, creating a compounded harmful effect for LGBTQ+ students and families. 

What is the impact of these laws on young people?

In its 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, the Trevor Project demonstrated that rates of suicidal thoughts have trended upward among LGBTQ+ young people over the last three years. Forty-five percent of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year and fewer than 1 in 3 transgender and nonbinary youth found their home to be gender-affirming. On the other hand, LGBTQ+ youth who found their school to be LGBTQ+-affirming reported lower rates of attempting suicide and LGBTQ+ youth who felt high social support from their family reported attempting suicide at less than half the rate of those who felt low or moderate social support.  

GLSEN’s 2021 National School Climate Survey explores the hostile climates LGBTQ+ students often face in school and the interventions that improve those school climates and the experiences for LGBTQ+ students. The survey found that 81.8% of LGBTQ+ students reported feeling unsafe in school because of at least one of their actual or perceived personal characteristics. This includes experiencing verbal harassment, physical harassment and physical assault. LGBTQ+ students who experience victimization and discrimination at school have worse educational outcomes and poorer psychological well-being. Supportive staff and school environments make a difference. LGBTQ+ students with supportive staff at their school and in schools with an LGBTQ+-inclusive curriculum, compared to schools without those factors, were less likely to feel unsafe, less likely to miss school, reported better psychological well-being and had a lower likelihood of having seriously considered suicide in the last year.        

These bills and laws not only negatively impact and harm LGBTQ+ children and families, but they impact all young people. Such bills and laws often foster hostile school environments which create an unsafe and inequitable school culture for all students. These laws don’t allow the teaching or even acknowledging of LGBTQ+ people and topics. As a result, students do not get the education they need and deserve. All young people are negatively impacted if their peers, friends and family members don’t feel safe, protected or treated fairly in school. These laws ultimately affect society by perpetuating a culture of hate and injustice with less equity, more harm, more hate and more divisiveness.  

What is the goal and purpose of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation?

Consider a second-grade student whose teacher is reading a book about families. When asked to share about their own families, one child talks about her two Moms and her teacher immediately stops reading the book and changes the subject. Imagine a middle school student who has told his English teacher, in confidence, that he is gay. He finds out that during parent-teacher conferences, the teacher told his parents about his sexual orientation. Picture an eleventh-grade transgender girl who isn’t allowed to use the girls’ bathroom and throughout the day, her teachers refuse to use her accurate pronouns and use he/him when talking about her. Her parents are helping her seek gender-affirming care but she worries something will happen to them because of their support.  

These laws often come from one of two places: a religious-based skepticism about LGBTQ+ people and a belief system that LGBTQ+ people are not entitled to equal rights and protection and they should not have the freedom to be and show who they are. In the first case, if the separation of church-and-state means anything, it means that religious animosity should not be made into law. As for the second idea, laws that dehumanize and demonize—or seek to erase or make invisible any person—are unacceptable.   

Engage in the Conversation


12 and up 

Questions to Start the Conversation 

  • What thoughts and feelings came up for you as you learned about these bills? 

  • What did you already know and what was new information for you?  

  • What more do you want to know about these bills and how people are challenging them? 

  • Have you and your peers been talking about these bills or have you seen online conversations about them? What are people saying and thinking? 

  • Do you know whether your state has proposed bills or laws in place that impact LGBTQ+ students? What are the bills or laws and what do you know about them? 

Questions to Dig Deeper 

(See the Additional Resources section for articles and information that address these questions.)  

  • What impact do these laws have on LGBTQ+ students? What impact do they have on the school as a whole? 

  • What can people do if they disagree with these laws? 

  • What do you think are laws that would help to expand the rights of LGBTQ+ people, especially students? 

Ideas for Taking Action 

Ask: What can we do to help?  What individual and group actions can help make a difference?  

  • Consider ways that you can act as an ally to students who are targeted based on an aspect of their identity, whether that is because they are LGBTQ+ or belong to another marginalized social identity group. 

  • Learn more about your state’s laws on LGBTQ+ rights and those being proposed. Express your views about these laws by reaching out to your state representative or your member of Congress.   

  • For middle and high school students: Explore advocating to bring a GSA Club (Genders and Sexualities Alliances) to your school. “A growing body of research confirms that the presence of a GSA has a positive and lasting effect on student health, wellness, and academic performance.” If not a GSA, identify specific ways your school can work on being more safe, inclusive and equitable for LGBTQ+ students.