While 2023 was a historically bleak year for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, the past 12 months have also seen groundbreaking wins for equality. Whether at the ballot box, in the courts, or even in hostile state legislatures, advocates have won major victories that either further the rights of LGBTQ+ Americans or safeguard the protections that queer and trans people hold dear.
At first glance, though, it may seem as if LGBTQ+ people have little to celebrate: Of the more than 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that the American Civil Liberties Union tracked this year, at least 84 were signed into law. The enacted legislation included 26 bills restricting trans youth access to gender-affirming medical care and 34 bills targeting trans students and restricting the rights of educators to discuss and teach LGBTQ+ topics in schools.
But for as many big wins as the far right scored in 2023, civil rights advocates remain hopeful about the LGBTQ+ movement’s future — and even its present. Chris Erchull, an attorney for GLAD, takes inspiration from the LGBTQ+ youth activists and families who successfully opposed a New Hampshire bill that would have required teachers and faculty to out trans students to their parents.
While the state has voted Democrat in the past five presidential elections, New Hampshire has a Republican trifecta in power, with the GOP controlling both houses of the legislature and the governor’s seat. In preventing the forced outing bill’s passage, Erchull believes it shows other victories are possible, including in tough places.