Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) introduced legislation this week that aims to improve support for LGBTQ youth who are at risk of or have already suffered child abuse.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth are about four times more likely to face sexual abuse and 20% more likely to face parental physical abuse than heterosexual children. LGBTQ youth are also more likely to wind up in child welfare systems.
The Protecting LGBTQ Youth Act would amend a 1974 law that established standards for defining and reporting child abuse. The bill also provides states with federal funding for the investigation, prosecution, and treatment of abuse.
The bill has been amended many times over the years, but has never included specific protections for LGBTQ youth.
While Virginia’s representatives at the federal level are committed to protecting and expanding LGBTQ rights, the same cannot be said for its state officials.
In February, the Republican-controlled House of Delegates, led by Speaker Kirk Cox (R-66), killed two anti-LGBTQ discrimination bills, despite widespread support among Virginia voters, including a majority of Republicans.
The Republicans’ decision to block the bills drew the ire of several advocacy groups, including Equality Virginia, Freedom for All Americans, and the Human Rights Campaign.