'Extreme' and 'hateful' bills: Biden moves to protect LGBTQ Americans amid onslaught of attacks

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WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden on Thursday blamed “extreme officials” pushing “hateful bills” for the onslaught of attacks against the LGBTQ community and pledged that gay Americans would always have the support of his administration.

“We have some hysterical and, I would argue prejudiced, people who are engaged in all that you see going on around the country,” Biden said during a White House news conference with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. “It’s an appeal to fear, and it’s an appeal that is totally, thoroughly, unjustified and ugly.”

Biden’s remarks came as his administration said it is taking a series of steps to counter the legislative attacks in GOP-led states.

President Joe Biden's administration is undertaking a series of new initiatives to protect the  LGBTQ community amid an onslaught of attacks.
President Joe Biden's administration is undertaking a series of new initiatives to protect the LGBTQ community amid an onslaught of attacks.

In conjunction with Pride month celebrations across the country, Biden announced a new community safety partnership led by the Department of Homeland Security to protect LGBTQ Americans.

The partnership will train LGBTQ community centers and businesses, such as restaurants and gay bars, that have faced threats to respond to “worst-case” scenarios, such as bomb threats, active shooters and cybersecurity attacks. The partnership will also work with health care providers and others that serve the LGBTQ community.

The administration also plans to release $1.7 million for new federal programs to support the health and mental health of LGBTQ youth. As part of the effort, the Department of Health and Human Services will issue an advisory to mental health professionals on best practices for supporting the mental health of transgender youth, who in some states have been the focus of bans on gender-affirming care.

“LGBTQ Americans are being targeted for who they are, and that, simply put, is discrimination,” said Neera Tanden, the White House domestic policy adviser.

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In addition, the Education Department will name a coordinator in the Office of Civil Rights to take on book bans that target materials with LGBTQ content. The coordinator will be responsible for training schools on how book bans that target a specific community create a hostile school environment and may violate federal civil rights laws.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development also intends to launch a new federal initiative to address LGBTQ health and youth homelessness.

Biden, who is regarded as the most LGBTQ-friendly president in history, issued a proclamation two weeks ago designating June as Pride month. Biden noted that his administration has already taken several steps to protect LGBTQ Americans, including ending the ban on transgender troops, signing legislation that enshrined the right to same-sex marriage into federal law and strengthened civil protections for gay Americans.

"But the fight is far from over," he said.

He called on Congress to pass the Equality Act, which would expand protections under the Civil Rights Act to bar discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity.

On Saturday, Biden will host what the administration says is the largest-ever Pride celebration to be held at the White House. The event had been scheduled for Thursday evening but was postponed after smoke from Canadian wildfires settled over Washington.

Michael Collins covers the White House. Follow him on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden takes steps to protect LGBTQ Americans amid onslaught of attacks