LGBTQ Rights
November 4, 2021
Will states place more limits on transgender youths?

There were advances and setbacks for LGBTQ+ rights in 2021. The Biden administration reversed policies that had rolled back transgender rights and called for passage of new legal protections. The Supreme Court left in place a lower court ruling that allowed a transgender student to use the boys’ bathroom. But the court also ruled that a Catholic social services agency could refuse to accept same-sex couples as foster parents. State lawmakers around the country introduced more than 250 bills aimed at restricting transgender rights. Many focus on preventing young transgender athletes from competing in school sports consistent with their gender identity, or banning doctors from providing transgender minors with gender-affirming treatments. However, nearly 150 U.S. companies signed a statement opposing these state measures, and more than 400 U.S. corporations urged Congress to pass new rights legislation.

Photo of transgender former high school student Gavin Grimm at GLAAD meeting in New York City on May 5, 2017. When the U.S. Supreme Court in June declined to review a lower court ruling, Gavin Grimm, a former high school student who is transgender and identifies as male, won his case against a Virginia school board that had denied him the right to use the boys’ bathroom. (Getty Images/WireImage/Mike Pont)

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously on June 17 that Catholic Social Services in Philadelphia could refuse to accept same-sex couples as foster parents, even though the city’s contract with foster care agencies forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation. 1 The decision was a setback for gay rights and an indication of the court majority’s belief in the primacy of religious groups’ legal prerogatives.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing the majority opinion, said the city’s contract permits exceptions. Catholic Social Services “seeks only an accommodation that will allow it to continue serving the children of Philadelphia in a manner consistent with its religious beliefs; it does not seek to impose those beliefs on anyone else,” Roberts wrote. 2

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