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Bill would provide civil rights protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, sex stereotyping, and sex in key areas of life

WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 224-206 to approve the historic Equality Act (H.R. 5). As an inclusive and compassionate sexual and reproductive health care provider, Planned Parenthood applauds this historic legislation to protect and strengthen the civil rights of LGBTQ+ people across the country. 

Currently, our federal civil rights laws do not explicitly protect LGBTQ+ people in the United States, leaving people vulnerable to discrimination in health care, employment, housing, credit, public spaces and services, education, federally assisted programs, and jury service. In 30 states, LGBTQ+ people can be fired, refused housing, or denied services simply because of who they are. The Equality Act — which was introduced by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) and passed today with bipartisan support — can begin to change that.

Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

“We applaud the U.S. House for standing on the right side of history to pass legislation articulating clear and consistent protections for people of all gender identities and sexual orientations. LGBTQ+ people are Planned Parenthood patients, supporters, and staff, and they deserve to live full, healthy, and authentic lives, free from discrimination or judgment. For far too long we have seen unacceptable attacks against the LGBTQ+ community. This protection is especially important for people who are discriminated against by homophobic, biphobic, transphobic, and racist institutions — and doubly important for people who live at the intersection of these identities. It is time to close this dark chapter of hatred and discrimination in our nation’s history. We thank Rep. Cicilline for championing this critical bill, and we call on the Senate to swiftly pass the Equality Act to help us turn the page.”

The Equality Act will prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, sex stereotypes, pregnancy and childbirth across many systems, including health care. People do not live single issue lives and the Equality Act recognizes that a single instance of discrimination may have more than one basis. By expanding some of our civil rights laws to include protection on the basis of sex for the first time and including additional public spaces and services where discrimination is prohibited, all people will be better protected from the myriad and insidious forms of sex discrimination. 

Planned Parenthood is proud to provide health care to LGBTQ+ people across the country, including services such as breast and cervical cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, birth control, and abortion. Planned Parenthood is an essential and irreplaceable provider of gender-affirming hormone therapy and health care for transgender and nonbinary patients, especially in areas outside of major cities, where Planned Parenthood health centers we are often the only provider offering these services. Over 300 Planned Parenthood health centers in 39 states and the District of Columbia currently offer gender-affirming hormone therapy for transgender patients, and some also provide puberty blockers. Many health centers also offer pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) –– a daily pill that can help reduce transmission for people who are at high risk for HIV –– and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) –– a series of pills that, if taken within 72 hours of being exposed to HIV, can lower your chances of getting it.

We know that LGBTQ+ people experience high rates of discrimination from medical providers: In a 2017 survey, nearly 30% of transgender people surveyed said a doctor or health care provider refused to treat them due to their gender identity. LGBTQ+ people also experience discrimination when interacting with police, applying for jobs, and more; LGBTQ+ people of color report discrimination at twice the rates of their white counterparts across these kinds of situations. The frequent harms experienced by LGBTQ+ people of color are compounded because they face  multiple forms of discrimination at the same time.

While the Biden-Harris administration must continue to undo the harm done by the previous administration — by rescinding the refusal of care of rule, for example — the Equality Act will help us move forward by making clear that these kinds of attacks are not acceptable. 

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Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.