Let us not return to what was normal, but reach toward what is next.
— Amanda Gorman (@TheAmandaGorman) December 29, 2021
With 2021 now officially behind us and a new year on the books, 2022 promises to have some major developments in store for LGBTQ+ Ohioans. To help us prepare, here are 6 key predictions that are guaranteed to come to pass in this new year.
1. LGBTQ+ statewide legislation will be hotly debated. Another year brings another iteration of Ohio’s Fairness Act, the rainbow-painted legislative boulder of Sisyphus that our allies have introduced for well over a decade. If passed, the Fairness Act would grant LGBTQ+ protections in the areas of housing, employment, and public accommodation. With more Republican co-sponsors currently on hand, the Fairness Act stands a better chance at passing than in years past, but still might not have a critical mass of support to (finally!) cross the finish line.
Another potential win for the LGBTQ+ community would be HB 420, Representative Lightbody’s bill to outlaw minors being subjected to conversion therapy, the harmful and discredited practice that is continuously unleashed on our most vulnerable LGBTQ+ siblings.
On the other side of the aisle, it is a certainty that Ohio Republicans will continue their assault on the lived existence of LGBTQ+ Ohioans, and specifically trans citizens. HB 454 to ban medical care to trans youth awaits hearings and, given their 2021 hijinks, Republicans will unquestionably attempt again to ban trans Ohioans from participating in athletics.
2. Non-LGBTQ+ statewide legislation will affect our outcomes. Just because the language of the bill does not specifically target the LGBTQ+ community does not mean that it will not affect us greatly. Bills on redistricting/gerrymandering, reproductive rights/abortion bans, and anti-protest bills will all dramatically affect our ability to vote, be represented, have autonomy over our bodies, and use our voices to tell truth to power.
3. Local LGBTQ+ legislation will have great importance. With the Equality Act stalled out on the federal level and passage of the Fairness Act far from a guarantee, local municipalities will continue to take matters into their own hands to pass LGBTQ+ protections. Following the example of cities like Dublin and Galion, this trend is set to continue in 2022 with more cities and towns looking to joint the list of 35 municipalities already offering these protections in Ohio.
4. There will be a proliferation of Prides. With a pandemic situation that changes by the hour, it is impossible to predict what June will look like. But if 2021 was any predictor, Pride celebrations will be popping up in heretofore unheard of Ohioan corners. With over 40+ Pride celebrations in 2021, the big development has been celebration planning in small communities like New Richmond and Darke County. And keep your eyes peeled for the 2nd year explosion of Pride celebrations that launched in 2021, like Dayton Black Pride.
5. More LGBTQ+ candidates will be running for office. 2021 was a history-breaking year in Ohio for LGBTQ+ candidates successfully making it into office. Inspired by people like Dion Manley in Gahanna, Rebecca Maurer’s in Cleveland, and Reggie Harris in Cincinnati, we have already heard from so many LGBTQ+ candidates who are tossing their hats into the 2022 mid-term elections. Stay tuned on that front.
6. LGBTQ+ young adults are going to take charge in Ohio. I spent the last month of 2021 meeting with LGBTQ+ young adults (20-29-years-old) from all over the state and let me cryptically say: something’s coming. There is a very particular and powerful type of community organizing that can only be achieved by this demographic. At the same time, this is a group that is not always given a seat at the rainbow tables where decisions are made. Look for steps towards changing that in 2022 and please support those steps when they are announced!