By Dustin J. Petzold
Throughout the month of June, the Pride flag has lined streets around the country and flown across TV and smartphone screens in advertisements for all manner of products and companies. But this year, the colors of the rainbow may appear more muted, as culture wars and legislative action over transgender medicine, drag performances, and overall LGBTQ rights have threatened to put a damper on Pride festivities. Professor of Law Katie Eyer, an anti-discrimination attorney who has argued precedent-setting cases on behalf of LGBTQ employees, answered questions on the various issues and legal challenges the community has come up against this Pride Month.
“This backlash comes at a time when many states around the country are proposing and enacting anti-LGBTQ laws,” Eyer said. “As we have seen increasing victories for lesbians, gays, and bisexuals—in the form of Supreme Court decisions that legalized same-sex marriage and prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation—there has been a turn toward targeting the transgender community, and especially trans youth. This is the worst type of opportunism—targeting a vulnerable group because there are not yet clear Supreme Court precedents affording it constitutional protections.”
After the legalization of same-sex marriage, many LGBTQ individuals and their allies believed the worst of the nation’s homophobic sentiments were in the rearview mirror and would continue to recede until acceptance was nearly universal. National support for same-sex marriage has grown steadily, reaching a record high of 71% in a June 2022 Gallup poll and remaining there in June 2023. However, rhetoric targeting the community has become louder and increasingly prevalent as conservative politicians and commentators take aim at the medical care, bathroom access, and gender expression of trans kids and adults.