Dear Editors,

Five years ago today, a gunman entered the Pulse LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and committed one of the most devastating acts of hate our nation has seen. Forty-nine people were killed and 53 others wounded in the attack on LGBTQ and Latin American communities.

Today, we remember those we lost. We grieve for their families and friends. And, we honor them by keeping up the fight against anti-LGBTQ hate.

The Pulse murders occurred during Pride Month in a space where LGBTQ people can freely be their whole selves. Since then, an explosion of hateful, anti-trans legislation has threatened to make an increasing number of public spaces unsafe for transgender people. On the first day of Pride Month, Florida became the eighth state to target trans athletes with a sports ban. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also vetoed state funding for Orlando’s LGBTQ Community Center, an organization that provides mental health support for survivors of the Pulse attack, this month.

Nationally, at least 17 bills targeting LGBTQ people have been passed already this year, out of over 125 that were proposed in state legislatures. The majority of these bills seek to prevent trans children from accessing lifesaving gender affirming care, ban trans people from using public restrooms or stop them from participating in sports.

Even before the legislation passed this year, a Trevor Project survey conducted in late 2020 found that 94% of LGBTQ youth said recent politics hurt their mental health.In a sickening display of bigotry, several anti-LGBTQ hate groups and some members of the radical right praised the gunman after the Pulse attack five years ago. This year’s unprecedented legislative attacks on transgender people revealed that, unfortunately, anti-LGBTQ hate is still alive in state legislatures across the country.

Although anti-trans bills aren’t popular among Americans of any political affiliation, legislators have rushed to pass bills that will harm generations of LGBTQ people. At a time when transgender and gender nonconforming people are already at a high risk of violence, these legislative attacks are deeply cruel and dangerous.

In remembrance of those who were killed at Pulse, we must commit, neighbor to neighbor, to standing up for each other’s human rights. That means speaking up against misgendering, harmful disinformation and discriminatory legislation. That’s how we will continue to grow a national movement against anti-LGBTQ hate.

Sincerely,

The Southern Poverty Law Center