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Report - Beyond Binary: LGBTQ+ Rights in the Digital Landscape

Updated: Jan 9

For members of the LGBTQ+ community, digital platforms and tools facilitate access to safe spaces for self-expression, economic opportunities, educational resources, and vital support networks. This is crucial to the overall well-being and advancement of LGBTQ+ individuals, and must be protected from discrimination, privacy concerns, and disparities in access to ensure that these tools continue to be transformative and inclusive.

As we move into the new year, Beyond Binary serves as a comprehensive look into the digital landscape of the United States, highlighting the policies and issues that will affect digital equity for LGBTQ+ Americans in 2024 and the years that follow. An outline of the report and its findings is below, and you can read the full document here.

The Social Landscape. The 20.2 million LGBTQ+ adults and 5.73 million LGBTQ+ youth in the United States have a unique and growing reliance on the communities and resources created by technology. In 2024, we must be prepared for these needs to continue to evolve, as will the risks we face, from content restriction policies to online harassment. This section also features a look at AI, and the potential benefits or risks posed by the increasing application of AI tools for the LGBTQ+ community.

The Federal Landscape. We have entered 2024 without comprehensive federal legislation addressing many of the physical and digital needs of LGBTQ+ Americans. This section looks at LGBTQ+ rights left unprotected, the Capitol Hill legislation that will impact them, and the issues we’re watching in the federal technology landscape this year, from digital discrimination to privacy to auction authority. This section also features a spotlight on the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA), which currently poses significant concerns for members of the LGBTQ+ community.

The State Landscape. 2023 saw a record-breaking number of state-level legislative attacks on the rights of LGBTQ+ residents to educate themselves and others, express themselves publicly, access equitable healthcare, and more. Digital spaces were not exempted from these attacks, and in 2024, we can only anticipate them worsening. From digital book bans to educational technology monitoring, the United States is facing a patchwork of digital policies that leaves too many vulnerable Americans unprotected online. This section has a focus on state-level social media regulation, looking at the dangers posed for LGBTQ+ youth by parental consent, “best interest of the child,” and age verification provisions. 

The Access Landscape. For LGBTQ+ Americans to experience the benefits of digital platforms and tools, they must first have access to the service and technologies that host them. This section covers efforts to expand access to devices and to high-speed and affordable broadband, with a dedicated look at the Affordable Connectivity Program and the importance of substantial and continued funding for it in 2024.

2024 will be a year of rapid technological developments and heightened legislative activity, underscored by a contentious election season. Ensuring that LGBTQ+ Americans are being supported in the digital landscape is paramount, and LGBT Tech is proud to work with policymakers, industry, stakeholders, and experts to do so.

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