White House’s Jen Psaki breaks down discussing ‘horrible’ wave of anti-LGBT+ laws

Jen Psaki stands in front of a US flag while attending a press conference at the White House

White House press secretary Jen Psaki got emotional as she condemned the “cruel” wave of anti-LGBT+ legislation sweeping the US. 

Psaki broke down in tears as she spoke about laws targeting trans youth and LGBT+ Americans during an interview on Jessica Yellin’s News Not Noise podcast on Tuesday (19 April). 

The White House press secretary denounced Republicans for playing “political games” with “harsh and cruel attempts at laws” that would marginalise the LGBT+ community.

She argued such bills are not a “reflection of a country moving to oppose” queer people, but rather part of efforts to win a “culture war”. 

“This is a political wedge issue, an attempt to win a culture war, and they’re doing that in a way that is harsh and cruel to a community – of kids, especially,” Psaki said. “I’m going to get emotional about this issue. It’s horrible.”

While appearing to speak through tears, Psaki described how political leaders are “taking steps to hurt” kids “who are bullied” along with their families. 

“It’s completely outrageous. Sorry, this is an issue that makes me completely crazy,” she continued.

Jen Psaki highlighted Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law, which restricts classroom instruction on sexual orienation or gender identity between kindergarten and third grade. After third grade, these discussions have to be made in an “age appropriate” manner. 

Psaki argued the law would not only prevent children like her own kindergartner from discussing their LGBT+ family members and friends, but was “penalising teachers and educators”. 

“There are so many layers of this that are outrageous, and I hope people continue to educate themselves on this because it is a bad side of politics,” Psaki said. 

Last year, a record-number of anti-trans bills were filed in state legislatures across the US, targeting the rights of trans youth to play sports or receive gender-affirming care. Over 190 bills were proposed in 2021 with many of the bills specifically attacking the trans community. 

But 2022 has already overtaken that figure as more than 320 anti-LGBT+ bills are under consideration in state legislatures across the nation, according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).  

Of these bills, at least 130 directly target trans people and almost half would ban trans youth from participating in school sports. 

It would also appear that these anti-LGBT+ bills do not have the full backing of Americans, according to a recent survey of over 22,600 adults in the US by the Public Religion Research Institute

Nearly eight in 10 Americans (79 per cent) support laws that protect LGBT+ people from discrimination in jobs, housing and public accomodations. 

The same survey found a majority of Democrats (89 per cent) and almost two-thirds (65 per cent) of Republican voters favoured non-discrimination laws protecting the LGBT+ community.