For nearly five decades, Lambda Legal has been on the frontlines defending the rights of LGBTQ+ youth. We’ve won historic protections for the most vulnerable of our community that remain in place to this day, as well as set important precedents for generations of LGBTQ+ youth to come.
Thanks to our groundbreaking victory in the 1996 case Nabozny v. Podlesny, LGBTQ+ students are protected from harassment and bullying in schools. And by winning Colin v. Orange County Unified in 2000, we ensured that LGBTQ+ students have the power to form gay-straight alliances (GSA) on their campuses without interference.
But the fight is hardly over. It has only intensified as LGBTQ+ youth have come under harsh, unprecedented attack in recent years.
Their fundamental human rights are being stripped away with every passing week, while their very existence is being called into question by callous politicians. LGBTQ+ young people are simply not safe in most places — including in schools and their own homes.
According to a recent survey published by GLSEN, almost 60% of LGBTQ+ youth said they experienced school policies that discriminated against them. A different survey conducted by The Trevor Project noted that more than 90% of trans and nonbinary youth worried about being denied access to gender-affirming care and the opportunity to play school sports due to state or local laws.
Meanwhile, an alarming Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report found that almost 70% of young LGBTQ+ people felt “persistently sad and hopeless”, and that suicide rates in the community are on the rise.
Lambda Legal is in the courts meeting this pivotal moment with fire and urgency. Within the last 10 months alone, we filed cases in Tennessee, Montana, Missouri, and Texas to keep gender-affirming care — that is irrefutably life-saving — accessible to LGBTQ+ youth.
We traveled to Idaho to make sure that trans students are able to safely use the school restroom that matches their gender identity. In West Virginia, we continued to defend young trans athletes and their right to play alongside their peers.
And we vehemently pushed back on Florida’s notorious “Don’t Say LGBTQ+” law, arguing that schools have the right to hold discussions on sexual orientation and gender identity.
As the history of our organization has proven time and time again, when it comes to protecting LGBTQ+ young people, we won’t back down.
Lambda Legal CEO Kevin Jennings said it best in his recent Back-to-School post: “Someday, I hope LGBTQ+ students will study bigotry in their history classes instead of experiencing it in their hallways. Until that day arrives, Lambda Legal will be here, fighting for them.”
Check out more of our blogs here, including recent pieces on Bisexual+ Awareness Week, Suicide Prevention Month, and the enduring legacy of trans Latinx pioneer Sylvia Rivera.