(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden praised the LGBTQ community’s courage at what he described as the biggest Pride Month celebration yet at the White House, saying they’re an example for the US and the world.
Addressing some 1,000 guests Saturday on the South Lawn, Biden touted his administration’s efforts to counter state and local laws targeting LGBTQ people.
“We need to push back against the hundreds of callous and cynical bills and laws introduced in states, targeting transgender children, terrifying families and criminalizing doctors and nurses,” Biden told the crowd.
Initiatives announced by Biden on Thursday include a Department of Homeland Security program to offer safety training to LGBTQ community centers facing increased threats. The government also is releasing regulations allowing states to use federal funds for programs to benefit LGBTQ people.
The Department of Education will name a coordinator to create training for school boards and administrators, warning that book bans could violate US civil rights law.
Biden, who’s running for a second term in 2024, paid tribute to survivors of shootings targeting LGBTQ people and reiterated his call for an assault weapons ban.
“You’re some of the bravest and most inspiring people I’ve ever known, and I’ve known a lot of good folks,” Biden said against a backdrop of two US flags and a rainbow flag hanging from the White House’s Truman Balcony. “You’ve set an example for the nation and quite frankly for the world.”
Read more: White House Delays Pride Event as Smoky Haze Hits Washington
Pride Month celebrations have become a corporate and cultural flashpoint. Target Corp. removed some LGBTQ-themed merchandise citing “confrontational behavior” at stores and conservative activists are calling for a boycott of Anheuser Busch InBev for a Bud Light promotion with a transgender TikTok star.
Republican-controlled states have passed a number of bills targeting transgender health care or limiting how teachers discuss gender in classrooms.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a 2024 GOP presidential contender, is embroiled in a feud with one of his state’s largest employers, Walt Disney Co., after it criticized a law restricting discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation in public schools, which opponents dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
--With assistance from Josh Wingrove.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.
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