Chapter and Verse | YDSA Organizes Against Anti-LGBTQ+ Laws

This Pride month, the LGBTQ+ community celebrates our fierce love while facing organized assaults on our very existence.

With 2023 not even half over, Human Rights Watch reports a record number of anti-LGBTQ+ legal efforts. More than 520 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures. Of these, over 220 bills specifically target transgender and non-binary people.

DSA members, especially those in YDSA chapters, are organizing against these efforts. Among the chapters standing up for LGBTQ+ rights in their schools and their communities are the following:

In a deep-red state, facing opposition from the school administration at every step of the way, YDSA-East Tennessee State University held 18-and-over drag shows (attended by about 900 people) that protested anti-gay and anti-drag bills and raised funds for local queer rights organizations. And when a campus conservative group invited anti-trans political commentator Michael Knowles to speak, YDSA ETSU sprang into action. Knowles has called for “transgenderism” to be “eradicated from public life.”

YDSA ETSU set up a petition about the event, reached out to local press, and held a joyful, educational “No Hate In Our State Block Party” across from the venue, where some 300 people listened to speakers, danced, and celebrated in contrast to Knowles’s bile.

And in Kentucky, University of Louisville (UofL) YDSA pushed the school to take a stand against SB 150, a bill touted as a “parents’ rights” measure that targets trans children at school, amps up Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, and bans gender-affirming care for people under 18. 

YDSA held town halls on the bill and started an open letter to the university that garnered 200 signatures. After the bill passed, they rallied on campus to demand protection for transgender community members in response to the law and an increase in transphobic incidents on campus. Their demands brought more funding to the LGBTQ+ center.

And, in the face of attacks on gender-affirming healthcare across the country, University of North Texas YDSA organized to improve access to hormone replacement treatment (HRT) care on campus. As a result, the on-campus health center committed to training employees in transgender health care and considering experience in trans healthcare in its hiring process.

LGBTQ+ people are being attacked as workers, as students, as parents, and more. It is no exaggeration to say that we are the proverbial canaries in the coal mine. When our rights are denied, everyone suffers. We must all stand up to protect ourselves, watch out for each other, and win a brighter future!