Our Pledge to Anti-Racism

Statement on the Texas Legislature’s Unprecedented Attack on Transgender Children

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                

Angela Hale, Equality Texas, 512.289.2995 angela.hale@equalitytexas.org


Equality Texas and the Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT) Release Statement on the Texas Legislature’s Unprecedented Attack on Transgender Children

Austin, Texas – April 15, 2021- Equality Texas, Today, Equality Texas, the largest statewide organization solely dedicated to securing full equality for LGBTQ Texans and the Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT), the largest statewide, trans-led, trans-focused organization in the state of Texas, released a statement on the Senate’s passing of SB 29, an anti-trans athletic bill.

“Today, the Texas Senate passed the Senate Bill 29, legislation aimed at banning transgender youth from participating in sports. Texas State Senators have failed to provide any examples of specific issues in Texas to justify this unprecedented attack on transgender youth.  The passing of this bill is discriminatory, targets our most vulnerable children and is not supported by fact. Collegiate and professional sports organizations have had trans-inclusive policies for years without incident — in Texas or anywhere else” said Ricardo Martinez, Chief Executive Officer of Equality Texas.

There are so far more than 240 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country. Of those, more than 115 directly target transgender people and about half of those (more than 60 bills) would, like SB 29, ban transgender girls and women from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity.

Emmett Schelling, Executive Director of Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT) stated, “Texas is already a dangerous place for transgender people to live. Whether or not anti-trans legislation becomes law, just the debate around these bills contributes to bolstering a hostile environment toward transgender Texans, particularly transgender children. When transgender young people are treated differently, or excluded simply because of who they are — and particularly in settings like sports where feeling part of a team is essential — it can be incredibly harmful to their mental health and sense of self. The dehumanization of transgender people begins with anti-transgender stigma. SB29 perpetuates this stigma and exacerbates it.”

We would like to thank all champions of equality: Carol Alvarado, Beverly Powell, Borris Miles, Sara Eckhardt, John Whitmire, Nathan Johnson, Roland Gutierrez, Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, Judith Zaffirini, Royce West, José Menéndez, César Blanco and Senator Eddie Lucio who voted against this harmful bill,” said Equality Texas CEO Ricardo Martinez.



Equality Texas is the largest statewide organization working to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Texans through political action, education, community organizing, and collaboration. The Equality Texas Foundation works to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Texans through education, community organizing, and collaboration.

The Transgender Education Network of Texas is the largest statewide, BIPOC trans led, trans-focused policy, education, and advocacy organization in the state of Texas.


Lege Week 13 Wrap-up: Healthcare under attack

April 9, 2021 by Debi Jackson

It’s time for our community to act. This coming Monday and Wednesday, the Texas legislature will hear 4 anti-LGBTQ+ bills; bills that restrict healthcare for transgender youth, empower healthcare providers to turn away anyone who “violates” their “moral, ethical or religious beliefs,” and further deepen the stigma for those living with HIV. To prepare, we invite every Equality Texan to take part in our Weekend of Action. 

There are so many ways to get involved to defeat these bills and have your voice heard. Every action truly makes a difference. In an op-ed about why he vetoed his party’s ban against best practice medical care for trans youth, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said “I acted on my convictions and based on what I learned in discussions with families, health-care professionals, faith leaders and transgender individuals…I came to the conclusion that this is a time to show compassion and to resist the temptation to severely restrict private family health-care decisions.”

The Arkansas legislature overrode the Governor’s veto and the bills in Arkansas became law. That’s why it’s so important for us to share our stories before these bills get to the Governor’s desk. Bill hearings are the only part of the legislative process where public testimony is collected for the official record. This is our greatest chance to show everyone watching what these bills will actually do to our kids, our friends, our neighbors, and our community. 

As part of our Weekend of Action, we’ll be highlighting specific actions to take each day leading up to the hearings on Monday.


All of these actions are helpful, and we ask folks to do as many as you have capacity for. 

The bills next week target our community in a very tangible, visceral way. SB 1646 (Perry) and HB 1399 (Krause) ban or limit best-practice, life-saving healthcare for transgender youth. HB 1424 (Oliverson) allows healthcare professionals and their staff to deny life-saving medical treatment. With their focus on limiting or denying healthcare these bills are explicit about their disregard for LGBTQ+ lives.



These bills will not erase us — LGBTQ+ Texans exist and will continue to live full robust lives in the state they call home. But we need to let lawmakers know that this legislation is far more than just words on a page. Share your story now and remind legislators, human to human, what it feels like to fight against bills that devalue our community’s lives. 

The bills:

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Lege Week 12 Wrap-up: Have you been keeping up with the Lege?

April 2, 2021 by Debi Jackson

This week we kept a close eye on movements in both the Texas Senate and House. As we mentioned in our last update, the Senate State Affairs committee, despite overwhelming opposition in the hearing, voted to move the transgender sports ban, SB 29 (R- Perry) to the next step in the legislative process. We’re now waiting to see when Senator Perry will put it on the Senate Intent Calendar. Once it’s on the Intent Calendar, it will be eligible for debate on the floor. 

Ask your Senator to oppose SB 29 now and then record it as video testimony.

Meanwhile in the Texas House, Republican freshman Representative Bryan Slaton has made three separate attempts to add an amendment banning best practice, evidence-based transition care for transgender youth to completely unrelated bills. While explaining his amendment, Representative Slaton spread the same dangerous misinformation about transition care that is in HB 68 (R – Toth) and the five other bans on affirming healthcare filed this session. A big thank you to Representatives Senfronia Thompson, Victoria Neave, and Joe Moody for halting these insidious attacks. 

In other issues, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick took aim at businesses who opposed harmful voter suppression bills in the Senate, calling them “corporations who don’t share our values.” He chastised them not only their opposition to SB 7, but also for their actions standing up for transgender Texans during the bathroom bill in 2017. According to the Public Religion Research Institute, 70% of Texans support nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ Texans. 

Week in Review

This week Equality Texas coordinated in-person and written testimony for the following hearings:


Bill Movements and New Developments

Upcoming opportunities for action:


There are fewer than 60 days of session remaining. Thank you for following along every step of the way.

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From Arkansas to Texas, Trans Day of Visibility: A Personal Narrative

March 31, 2021 by Debi Jackson

Written by Caden Campbell (they/them), Development Associate


Today is Trans Day of Visibility. A heavy day given today’s political climate and the mass of anti-trans legislation we are seeing across the country, places like Arkansas, my home state. I think about the lives lost to violence — murder, suicide, untreated illnesses, homelessness.

Recognizing my transness was a process that took many years of hard questions and confusion. We didn’t talk about trans existence in the Arkansas public school system. We didn’t talk about HRT or gender dysphoria in health class.  It wouldn’t be until 2009, that I would begin to understand and have access to the language that described my experience as a trans person. When I was able to claim that agency, a weight had been removed from my chest. But it didn’t necessarily make things easier. I could love me, but so many others could not…would not. Fighting for my existence was hard. Dealing with people’s ignorance, my own ignorance, was hard. Being tokenized and harassed was so hard.

On November 18th, 2011, I had my first dose of HRT. I had waited a long time, and when I finally could, I drove around blasting John Williams’ “Super Man.” It felt so good to be able to take this important step. First, I had to drive to Roanoke to see a therapist who would sign off on the process. Then I had to drive an hour in the opposite direction to meet with the only endocrinologist I could find who would provide HRT. There were no doctors in Lynchburg, Virginia, where I went to college, who would provide gender affirming care.

I could go into depth about the hard experiences in those early years. About how people asked about my genitals, about how people asked, “how I have sex.” About how I was made to feel like a problem for advocating for myself so often that I became too afraid to try. I could also tell you about some of my teachers, who supported me, fought for me. Acts of love that would keep me alive.

I could tell you about how I was called a “freak” an “it” a “confused young woman” by adults in my life, by people I knew and didn’t. I could tell you the moment I met my first trans masculine person, years later, and how I cried. Finally, I wasn’t alone. I could tell you about my name change and my gender change on my license. I could tell you about top-surgery and having to drive to a different state (Texas) to get that care; getting stopped in bathrooms along the way.

I could tell you about not seeing a PCP in years, because I couldn’t find one who was informed about my trans body. I could tell you about all the times that people have talked about my body, and how I became afraid of being seen; that standing up in front of people became terrifying. How all I want is to be invisible. I could tell you about my anxiety, my suicide attempt, my PTSD and my chronic depression. I could tell you about the fear that is always there.

I wish I could tell my experience eloquently. I wish I could write something compelling that would change the hearts and minds of those who hate us. But I can’t because I’m tired. I can’t because truly writing what I feel and what I’ve experienced is too hard, too painful, too rage inducing.

But things were getting better. I saw kids and young adults in Arkansas who finally had access to gender affirming care. Through organizations like Lucie’s Place that supports struggling LQBTQ+ young adults. Like the gender clinic at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences that provides HRT. There had been so much progress in Arkansas.

Last week that progress became stagnant. Arkansas State Legislators have passed three anti-trans bills, two of which have been signed into law by Governor Asa Hutchinson. All mirror the anti-trans bills we are seeing at the Texas State Legislature this year. Bills that will ultimately cost lives of adults and our children. I thought that trans kids growing up in 2021, would have an affirming and safe experience of the world. More than I had, more than our trans elders had before me. But as it stands, things are now getting worse in Arkansas. And if we don’t do something, they are going to get worse in Texas, too.

Hate and inaction led to the 44+ trans deaths in our country this past year. Hate and inaction has led to anti-trans legislation being introduced and passed. Hate and inaction is killing me. Hate and inaction is killing us all. Do something, anything, please. Help us save our kids and communities. Help us fight for human rights. The right to live freely without fear of discrimination. The right for medical care. The right to play. The right to live. And maybe, when that happens, the things I’ve experienced will stop. And our children will have a chance to grow up authentically and safe. Our children will have a chance to live. But only if we do something.


Senate Bill 29, Dan Patrick’s Transgender Sports Ban, will be debated on the Senate floor soon.

Send an email to your Senator asking them to oppose this discrimination.



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Lege Week 11 Wrap-up: Preparing for the unexpected

March 29, 2021 by Debi Jackson

We are posting this legislative update a few days late so that we could practice self-care this weekend. Sharing our personal stories in a public forum, surrounded by opposition, all during a global pandemic puts folks on the front-lines of advocacy in a vulnerable place. We understand that our cups need to be full so that we can continue to be of service to our mission of full-lived equality for all LGBTQ+ Texans. We wholeheartedly thank everyone who showed up in-person and those who submitted written testimony to help us defend our rights.

Friday was the first all-hands-on-deck hearing at the Capitol. SB 29 would effectively ban transgender students from ever participating in sports consistent with who they are. The bill is ambiguous and leaves it up to the University Scholastic League (UIL) and Texas school districts to determine a student’s “biological sex,” which could result in massive liability for school districts as they try to implement or enforce this vague and harmful law, potentially intruding upon the privacy rights of all students and disproportionately harming young women and girls.

Equality Texas staff, board members, community partners like Transgender Education Network of Texas, Texas Freedom Network, Human Rights Campaign, ACLU of Texas and Lambda Legal helped mobilize nearly 50 Equality Texans to deliver in-person testimony. We were also able to submit over 140 written testimonies in opposition to Dan Patrick’s latest pet project attacking LGBTQ+ Texans, SB 29. See some of the testimony online. Unfortunately, after hours of testimony provided by trans kids, their parents, other athletes, coaches, and allies, Senate State Affairs voted to pass the bill out of committee close to midnight.

Eleven weeks into lege session, one thing is clear: we need to prepare for the unexpected and continue to show up in-person whenever possible. As we saw this week, a hearing can be scheduled surprisingly and with little notice. Our community needs to mobilize on a moment’s notice to have our voices heard, especially against the greatest threats to LGBTQ+ equality: anti-trans bills.

Because of your support, in less than 48 hours Equality Texas was able to mobilize witnesses, identify the appropriate messengers, and train new testifiers to defend the rights of transgender kids.

How to engage this week: 

Bill Movement and Important Developments

To submit written testimony, click here. To submit video testimony, click here. If you can testify in person, please reply to this email.


Thank you for fighting against this insidious legislation, and if you can support this work financially, please make a donation today.

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Testimony Against SB 29

March 27, 2021 by Debi Jackson

On Friday March 26th, the first hearing about SB 29 — one of Dan Patrick’s “priority bills” for the 87th Legislative Session, which targets transgender youth who want to play sports — was held in the Senate State Affairs Committee.

More than 140 Equality Texans submitted written testimony against SB 29, and nearly 50 went to the Capitol in the middle of a continuing global pandemic to testify in person. Trans kids, their parents, athletes, coaches, and other allies told heartfelt personal stories, offered compelling arguments proving that such a bill isn’t needed, and challenged the Senators to focus on the actual serious needs of Texans. 


Watch some of the submitted testimony here.



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Lege Week 10 Wrap-up: The T in LGBTQ+ needs you more than ever

March 19, 2021 by Debi Jackson

It is not a matter of “if” but when we will have a hearing on the anti-trans bills that have defined this session. 2021 is a record year for anti-transgender legislation across the country. Bills targeting transgender youth are flying through other state legislatures and we must do everything in our power right now to prepare to defend and protect the lives and humanity of LGBTQ+ people in Texas — especially transgender Texans who are at the center of these vicious and coordinated attacks. First up, we are likely to be fighting bills that seek to ban trans girls from participating in girls sports.

Imagine having to tell a child that they cannot safely participate in team sports because a law has been passed that deems them too different to do so or puts them at risk of being subjected to invasive physical exams. They might say…

“But why can’t I play?” 

What would you answer? Would you say that the state of Texas doesn’t want them to fit in? That it doesn’t want them to belong? That they are too different to do what their friends do? Participating in sports is a right of passage in Texas. Friday night lights, cookouts, legacy sports families, and memories to cherish for a lifetime.

Sports participation provides life lessons and promotes shared values that all children should be able to experience: physical health and stress relief, sportsmanship, team-building and camaraderie, goal-setting and self-discipline, leadership, confidence, and belonging. The vast majority of children, including transgender children, are not elite athletes. They just want to play sports for fun, with friends and classmates. They should not be forced to choose between being themselves and playing sports. You can help us ensure kids are not forced to make that choice.

Everyone has a story, an expertise, a personal connection to bills that affect our community. No voice is too small or too removed. We need you. 

What can you do? Make your voice heard!

“It’s hard to hate up close,” said Representative Israel, on the All in for Equality Coalition’s State of LGBTQ+ Equality conversation last Monday with the House LGBTQ+ Caucus. Share your story. Make them see you. Together we can hold the line and protect transgender kids in Texas. 

Week in Review

Last week our community showed up to testify for the first two pro-LGBTQ+ bills of the session, HB 73 (Hinojosa, D-Austin), which would eliminate the gay/trans panic defense, and HB 1402 (A. Johnson, D-Houston), which would make sure that transgender Texans are covered by the James Byrd Jr Hate Crimes Act. 

Those two hearings showcased the strength of our community and what happens when you make your voice heard. People shared their lived experiences with attacks motivated by hate, their fears, their love for the state of Texas (even when it doesn’t love us back), and their hopes for their loved ones. Others used their knowledge to give legal analysis of the bills, and dismantle the empty arguments against this important legislation. 

And the legislators heard. Multiple members of the committee pointed out the need to keep the LGBTQ+ community safe, asked genuine questions, and sincerely thanked the witnesses who were able to make it out. 

Policy Briefing: What to Watch Out For

The anti-transgender youth bills, particularly the bans on sports participation, could be heard as early as next Monday, March 29. Senate State Affairs, where SB 29 (Perry, R-Lubbock) and SB 373 (Perry, R-Lubbock) have been referred, meets every Monday morning and we generally only have around 48 hours notice of what bills are on deck. This Monday, we weren’t on the agenda; next Monday we might be. Every week there’s a chance that we’ll have to mobilize our community in record time. 

Anti-Trans Sports Bans: SB 29, SB 373, SB 1458, HB 3455, HB 4042, HB 4043

Anti-Trans Medical Care Bans: HB 68, HB 1399, HB 2693, SB 1646, SB 1311, HB 4014

See ALL OTHER BILLS on our Legislative Tracker.

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State of LGBTQ+ Equality in Texas with House LGBTQ+ Caucus

March 17, 2021 by Debi Jackson
On Monday, March 15th, Equality Texas CEO Ricardo Martinez hosted a conversation about the state of LGBTQ+ equality in Texas with the Executive Board Members of the Texas House LGBTQ+ Caucus, who were able to share about themselves as Representatives and their legislative priorities this 87th Legislative Session.
Thank you to our equality partners at TENT, ACLU of Texas, Human Rights Campaign, Texas Freedom Network, and Lambda Legal for expanding our usual Advocacy Week events to a month of virtual programs.

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Lege Week 9 Wrap-up: 60 days in, 30 anti-LGBTQ+ bills, 80 days to fight

March 12, 2021 by Debi Jackson

As of this morning, 30 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been filed that directly target our community, and there’s still a full day left of bill filing. To put that in perspective, as of today’s numbers, Texas bills account for almost 30% of all anti-LGBTQ+ bills filed nationally. 

This is a drastic escalation from our opposition. Last session, only 19 total anti-LGBTQ+ bills were filed. This surge of direct legislative attacks only highlights that these bills aren’t being filed to actually solve problems, but to distract from the true emergencies Texans are facing, from the pandemic, to the economic crisis, to fixing the electric grid. 

It is urgently important for all Equality Texan to take action right now to hold the line and protect the humanity and well-being of our community. No action is too big or small. Click here to review all the various ways you can get involved right now.

Today is the deadline to file bills. Next week, we’ll share with you the full picture of what our community is facing in the next few months of session.


This Monday, March 15, two pro-LGBTQ+ bills will be the first good bills to get a hearing this session, in the Criminal Jurisprudence committee: HB 73 (Hinojosa, D-Austin), which would eliminate the gay/trans panic defense, and HB 1402 (A. Johnson, D-Houston), which would make sure that transgender Texans are covered by the James Byrd Jr Hate Crimes Act. 

If you’d like to provide written testimony on these or any other bills, we will ensure it gets to the committee through this portal. If you’re vaccinated and feel safe going to the Capitol, please contact rachel.hill@equalitytexas.org to learn more about how we can support you.

The first anti-LGBTQ+ bill to get a hearing this session was SB 247 (Perry), which would allow someone licensed under the state bar of Texas (like attorneys) to refuse service without disciplinary action to anyone, including the LGBTQ+ community, if that individual violates a “sincerely held religious belief” of the licensee. Equality Texas was able to coordinate in-person and written testimonies. Thank you to everyone who provided written or in-person testimony on this bill.


Yesterday Representative Jessica González and Senator José Menéndez filed HB 3860 and SB 1540 respectively that introduced new modern legislation that will proactively protect our community and ensure that every single Texan, including LGBTQ+ Texans will be treated equally under Texas law. 

Of the new anti-LGBTQ+ bills filed this week, we saw three bills banning transgender youth participation in sports, two bills banning best-practice life saving medical care for transgender youth, two bills that would endanger local nondiscrimination ordinances, a bill that would allow doctors to refuse medical care based off their “sincerely held religious beliefs,” and a bill that would prohibit teachers from talking about inequity or oppression in class. 

The end of bill filing and start of committee hearings means we’ve entered the phase of the legislative session most focused on public input. Now more than ever is the time to get involved in our work at the Capitol. We’ll keep you up to date on which bills are moving so that you can contact your legislators and share your story with written testimony. You can also donate to help increase our capacity to mobilize constituents in key districts as the session heats up. 

No action is too big or small. What will you do to protect LGBTQ+ Texans today?


The below pro-LGBTQ+ bills will be heard in the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee Monday, March 15 at 2 PM:

HB 73 (Hinojosa, D-Austin)HB 73 would limit the legal defense known as gay/trans panic. This legal defense, which claims that a person’s sexual orientation or gender expression can trigger violence against another person, was debunked by the American Psychiatric Association in 1973. 

HB 1402 (A. Johnson, D-Houston) –  The James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act authorizes enhanced penalties for violent crimes motivated by bias against the victim’s race, religion, color, sex, disability, sexual orientation, age, or national origin. The law should be updated to include gender identity and expression. According to a report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, anti-LGBTQ violence, particularly against transgender women of color, is on the rise. Hate-related homicides spiked 86% in 2017 and in 2019 Texas was tied for the most transgender murders in the nation.

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For Immediate Release: Equality Texas Praises Filing of Nondiscrimination Legislation

March 11, 2021 by Debi Jackson

Angela Hale, Equality Texas, 512.289.2995 angela.hale@equalitytexas.org


Equality Texas Praises Today’s Filing of New Comprehensive Non-Discrimination State Legislation that Modernizes Language and Protections for LGBTQ+ Texans by Vice Chair of the LGBTQ Caucus, Representative Jessica González and Senator Jose Menéndez


Austin, Texas – March 11, 2021- Equality Texas, the largest statewide organization solely dedicated to securing full equality for LGBTQ+ Texans, today praised the filing of new modern legislation that will pro-actively protect our community and ensure that every single Texan, including LGBTQ+ Texans will be treated equally under Texas law.

This bill would extend non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people in employment, housing, and public accommodations.  The only way to achieve the freedom for LGBTQ people to live, work, earn a living, raise our families, and contribute fully to our communities is to pass a comprehensive, statewide nondiscrimination law that protects all people, including LGBTQ people.

Currently, Texas is one of 27 states where there are no protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  Texans can get married on Sunday and the very next day get kicked out of a restaurant or evicted from their apartment or turned down for a lease because of who they are or who they love. State legislation will guarantee explicit, permanent protections for LGBTQ+ people.

“Equality Texas has been working with Rep. Jessica González for the last year and a half on a comprehensive non-discrimination bill that will provide consistent and explicit anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people across key areas of life, including employment, housing and public spaces. Many Texans are not aware that LGBTQ people can legally refused housing or denied services because of who we are. This is unkind, unfair, inequitable and unacceptable. We are committed to ensure Texas finally lives up to the promise for equality for all,” said Equality Texas CEO Ricardo Martinez.

All Texans — including LGBTQ+ people — should be able to live, work, and access services like banks and medical care without fear of harassment or discrimination. Inequality perpetuates a culture that does not work for Texans.

“The good news is that 70% of Texans – including majorities in both parties and all major religious groups – already support the idea of nondiscrimination protections for their LGBTQ neighbors, coworkers, family members, and friends,” said Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas. “Passing a comprehensive nondiscrimination law isn’t just the right thing to do to ensure LGBTQ+ people have the same opportunities to live, earn a living and contribute to their communities. Diversity and inclusion is a 21st century imperative and an economic study by economist Ray Perryman shows embracing equality will drive job creation in Texas and help our economy recover from the pandemic.”

Equality Texas’ top state offensive priority is to pass the comprehensive non-discrimination bill HB 3860 authored by Texas Representative Jessica González and SB 1540 by Senator Jose Menéndez through the Texas Legislature. Discrimination is still commonplace for LGBTQ+ Texans. Opponents of LGBTQ+ equality continue to file discriminatory bills in Texas to undermine existing protections in adoption, marriage and access to basic public services and businesses. The comprehensive non-discrimination law would ensure that all LGBTQ+ Texans can live, work, and access public spaces free from discrimination.

The Perryman study examines the expected economic impacts of a statewide, comprehensive nondiscrimination law covering employment, housing, and public spaces for LGBTQ Texans and visitors. The Perryman Group found that in the first biennium, such a law would create $1.3 billion in state and local tax revenues, and in the 2021-2045 period, it would create 700,000 new jobs, more than $1.3 trillion in gross product, and $130 billion in tax revenues for state and local governments.

Although 21 states and more than 330 cities have passed LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections, half of LGBTQ+ people, including Texans live in the 27 states that still lack comprehensive statewide laws.



Equality Texas is the largest statewide organization working to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Texans through political action, education, community organizing, and collaboration. The Equality Texas Foundation works to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Texans through education, community organizing, and collaboration.

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