Critics warn of ‘radical gender ideology’ in latest Biden LGBT move

President Joe Biden pride President Joe Biden speaks during a Pride celebration on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, on June 10, 2023. | Credit: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration has doubled down on a radical approach to sexuality and gender in its latest efforts to advance LGBT communities and youth, critics say.

The White House in a June 8 fact sheet announced “new actions to protect LGBTQI+ communities,” referring to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and other sexualities and identities. 

The Biden administration depicted the move as a response to legislation and other controversies surrounding bans on sex changes and “gender-affirming care” for minors. President Joe Biden indicated he would treat efforts to remove sexually explicit pro-LGBT kids’ books in libraries as a civil rights violation.

A ‘radical gender ideology agenda’

Critics of the White House actions include Eric Kniffin, an attorney and fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC), and Natalie Dodson, a policy analyst for the EPPC. 

“This fact sheet is one of the many actions by the administration to advance the radical gender ideology agenda,” Kniffin and Dodson told CNA on June 8.

“From grants to regulations, this administration has broadened the definition of sex to include gender identity in almost every agency and across every program within the federal government. This is an administration-wide effort with little consideration for the very individuals they claim to support and with little evidence or data to substantiate their comprehensive agenda.”

“Unfortunately, the fact sheet is consistent with this administration’s efforts to promote radical gender ideology through executive action. Rather than genuinely attempting to address the crises of our modern culture, the administration is promoting irreversible ‘affirmative care’ that often leaves individuals with higher rates of depression and suicidal risk,” the EPPC commentators said.

According to the White House fact sheet, “over a dozen states have enacted anti-LGBTQI+ laws that violate our most basic values and freedoms as Americans, and are cruel and callous to our kids, our neighbors, and those in our community.”

The Biden White House promised further action to address violence and harassment against LGBTQI+ people, mental health and homelessness among youth who identify as LGBTQI+, and “book bans.” 

The fact sheet endorsed programs that LGTQ+ advocates say affirm children’s identities and promised further regulation of foster care and human services programs.  

Biden: State transgender laws ‘hysterical’ and ‘prejudiced’

Biden mentioned national debates on LGBT issues and discussed his administration’s latest actions at a June 8 press conference with visiting U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Biden attributed state legislation to “some hysterical and, I would argue, prejudiced people who are engaged in all of what you see going on around the country.” The president lamented what he said is a rising trend of “violence and hate crimes targeting LGBTQ people.”

“It’s wrong that extreme officials are pushing hateful bills targeting transgender children, terrifying families, and criminalizing doctors,” Biden said.

He promised federal coordination of safety and security at Pride celebrations and marches, LGBT community centers, health care providers, and small businesses.

“Secondly, we’re addressing civil rights violations, a new coordinator to protect LGBT students from book bans, which make it harder for kids to learn and may violate their civil rights at the same time,” he added. 

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The president promised “more mental health resources and funding to help families support their kids” and also promised more efforts to combat homelessness among LGBT-identified youth.

Biden hosted a Pride Day event Saturday with thousands of attendees on the South Lawn of the White House.

Federal funding to ‘affirm LGBTQI+ kids’

The White House’s plans include more federal funding “to support programs that help parents affirm their LGBTQI+ kids” and new regulations to “protect LGBTQI+ youth in foster care.” The White House fact sheet also pledges to “support the mental health of LGBTQI+ youth and partner with families to affirm LGBTQI+ kids.”

The White House fact sheet noted the Department of Health and Human Services’ release of a Behavioral Health Care Advisory on Transgender and Gender Diverse Youth to provide “evidence-based practices for mental health providers.” HHS will also provide guidance to states and communities on using federal funding for LGBTQI+ youth. The White House said a $1.7 million grant will back programs that “prevent health and behavioral health risks for LGBTQI+ youth (including suicide and homelessness) by helping families to affirm and support their LGBTQI+ child.”

The White House said almost half of these youth have thought about attempting suicide in the past year. Additionally, nearly 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ+.

For Kniffin and Dodson, the claim about suicidality is “misguided and unsubstantiated.” 

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“While everyone wants to help young people struggling with suicide and homelessness, there are no long-term studies that support the administration’s claims that ‘gender-affirming care’ leads to better mental health. To the contrary, pro-LGBTQI+ advocates’ claims are based on methodologically flawed non-random surveys,” they said, recommending a September 2022 EPPC factsheet on gender-affirming care

“Additionally, LGBTQI+ self-identifying youths often present other mental health disorders and physical health disorders that contribute to suicidality,” Kniffin and Dodson said.

Biden administration curtails parental rights, critics say

Among the many controversies about LGBT issues, some parents have said that their local school encouraged their children to change their gender without notifying their parents.

EPPC has filed an amicus brief in Littlejohn v. School Board of Leon County, Florida, a case that argues public school staff wrongly met in secret with a middle school girl to support her purported gender transition and conceal this from her parents.

“Pro-LGBTQI+ school counselors and other advocates irresponsibly tell children and their parents that ‘gender-affirming care’ is a cure-all, while ignoring clear signs of trauma or other mental health conditions,” Kniffin and Dodson told CNA. “Many of these youth continue to get worse until their underlying mental health problems are addressed, at which point their gender confusion often resolves itself.”

“The administration is feeding into the fear-mongering advanced by the pro-LGBTQI+ advocates to intimidate and scare parents into ‘affirming’ their child’s self-determined identity and allowing irreversible medical treatments on minors,” Kniffin and Dodson added. “By prioritizing the pro-LGBTQI+ advocates, the administration is sacrificing children at the altar of gender ideology and major monetary incentives for hospitals.”

The White House said that HHS’ Administration for Children and Families will advance a rule requiring that state child welfare agencies “ensure that LGBTQI+ youth have access to a safe and appropriate placement and have access to supportive services that help to affirm them.” Further, the HHS Office for Civil Rights will issue proposed regulations the White House says will “protect LGBTQI+ kids and families from discrimination in human services programs that support children and families.”

At times there have been political conflicts and legal challenges related to adoption and foster placement partnerships with religious agencies. LGBT advocates have sought to block the participation of religious agencies that reject same-sex relationships or claims about gender identity, gender affirmation, and gender transition.

Kniffin and Dodson noted that HHS is reviewing another proposed rule under the Affordable Care Act that would “seriously undercut critical federal religious liberty protections and state laws protecting minors from irreversible “gender transition” interventions” as well as state conscience and religious freedom protection laws.

The White House fact sheet echoed Biden’s comments that alleged “book bans” of LGBT books threaten student civil rights. The Department of Education will appoint a national coordinator to respond to these controversies.

“Parents are rightly outraged at the obscene, sexually-explicit books that LGBTQI+ advocacy groups have pushed into classrooms and school libraries,” Kniffin and Dodson said. “Common sense says that if a book is so pornographic it can’t be read out loud at a school board meeting, children shouldn’t be able to pick it up for themselves in the school library.” 

“Removing vulgar sex manuals to make room for age-appropriate novels and history books is a good thing, not an unconstitutional First Amendment violation,” they said. The EPPC commentators voiced concern that the coordinator dedicated to “book bans” will promote such materials “under the guise of a misinformed understanding of civil rights.”

The White House said that agencies including U.S. attorneys’ offices, FBI field offices, and Department of Justice community relations offices will engage LGBTQI+ community members and other communities to help them report hate crimes.

According to the FBI summary, hate crime incidents in 2021 numbered more than 10,500 single-bias incidents with 12,411 victims, based on reporting from over 3,000 agencies serving a population of over 87.2 million U.S. residents. About 64.5% of these crimes were motivated by bias based on race, ethnicity, or ancestry; 15.9% were motivated by bias based on sexual orientation; 14.1% were due to religious bias; and 3.2% were due to gender identity bias.

Of these reported crimes, 8,327 were classified as crimes against persons: 43.2% were criminal intimidation, 35.5% simple assault, and 20.1% aggravated assault. Nineteen rapes and 18 murders were reported as hate crimes in 2021. Of the more than 3,800 hate crimes against property, 71% were destruction, damage, or vandalism of property.

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