Advances in Federal Rules to Protect LGBTQIA+ Americans, but Challenges Remain

lgbtq federal judges

In recent weeks, the federal government has finalized important new guidelines that improve non-discrimination protections LGBTQIA+ Americans. These landmark rules are the culmination of years of advocacy from our community, including your input through Resource Center! Here’s what you need to know:

Healthcare Protections: Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act 

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finalized a rule that throws out a Trump Administration policy that stripped federal healthcare protections on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics. LGBTQIA+ people experience barriers in accessing care, are less likely to be insured and have faced worse health outcomes due to stigma. Many states, including Texas, have moved to restrict access to healthcare for the LGBTQIA+ community, transgender people in particular. This new federal rule goes a long way to strengthen protections and close the healthcare gap for our community. 

In 2022, Resource Center helped drive thousands of comments to support adoption of the final rule. We are grateful for all who joined us to act.

Education Protections: Strengthening Title IX for LGBTQIA+ Students

The Department of Education also recently finalized a rule that clarifies Title IX protections for LGBTQIA+ students, pregnant people and survivors of sexual assault. For the first time, federal regulations explicitly protect students based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This important step strengthens the ability for LGBTQIA+ students to challenge discriminatory policies on campus and ensure practices on campus comply with federal law. 

Resource Center has worked for years with allied organizations nationwide to advocate for better protections for LGBTQIA+ students and transgender athletes. We will continue fighting until all youth can be themselves at school without fear of discrimination.

Adoption and Foster Care Discrimination: New HHS Rule

Finally, new guidelines have been released that strengthen protections for LGBTQIA+ youth in the adoption and foster care system. The rule requires that agencies must ensure that placements are free from harassment, mistreatment, and abuse based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It also allows families to qualify as “designated placements” – a designation that means they have undergone specific training to support the needs of LGBTQIA+ youth. 

Here’s why this rule is important. LGBTQIA+ youth are greatly overrepresented in the foster care system – roughly one out of every three identifies as LGBTQIA+. LGBTQIA+ families are also far more likely to adopt than their peers. 

Political and Legal Headwinds Remain

Despite the progress, these rules are already being challenged by politicians in Texas and other states. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is leading the charge to challenge the new Title IX rule. Roughly half of all states have joined this and other lawsuits to overturn the rule. 

The new healthcare protections also face a lawsuit in Florida from a Catholic Medical Association, alleging they “redefine the practice of medicine.” We await further developments in the courts.


We applaud these steps forward to protect LGBTQIA+ Americans under the law. While forces in Texas continue to mobilize to block our progress, we are grateful for all those who have taken action with Resource Center to protect our rights. Want to join the fight? Sign up for Resource Center advocacy alerts here.

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