Last week the Governor signed HB 25, the anti-transgender sports ban, which will take effect on January 18. Since the signing, after 10 months of very public anti-transgender rhetoric, the intent of the unrelenting attack has become crystal clear: it was never about sports. Stigmatizing and dehumanizing transgender Texans is just the beginning of a long-term plan to roll back the hard-won progress made since Stonewall.
In just the past two weeks, opponents of equality have set their sights on LGBTQ+ youth in public schools and marriage equality, perpetuating the culture of fear they championed while the legislature was in session.
Representative James White, now a candidate for Agriculture Commissioner, sent a request to notoriously anti-LGBTQ+ Attorney General Ken Paxton to weigh in on whether or not the U.S. Supreme Court’s (SCOTUS) decision on marriage equality must be enforced in Texas considering that Texas law currently requires marriages to be between “one man and one woman.”
Although bills are introduced every session to update Texas law to match SCOTUS precedent, not one has yet to pass the state legislature. Opinions by the Attorney General are non-binding, so Paxton’s decision will not change the fact that Texas does have to abide by SCOTUS precedent and continue recognizing marriage equality.
Meanwhile, AG Paxton’s primary opponent, Representative Matt Krause, launched an investigation into Texas school districts over what books are available in libraries and individual classrooms. His self-described goal is to eliminate any books that could “make students feel discomfort” over their race or sex. His list of 850 targeted titles includes many that seek to promote acceptance and understanding about the LGBTQ+ community and break down gender norms.
Governor Abbott doubled down on Krause’s inquiry, sending a letter to the Texas Association of School Boards to determine the extent to which “pornography or other inappropriate content” exists in public schools, after a viral parent complaint about Gender Queer, by Maia Kobabe, a coming-of-age memoir about gender and sexuality.
These attacks confirm what we knew all along – the demonization of transgender youth is part of the ongoing strategy to build momentum against the community as a whole. We continue to receive reports of an increasingly hostile school climate for LGBTQ+ students all over Texas – increased bullying, being denied access to restrooms, and days of missed education in in-school-suspension just for their gender expression.
Equality Texas is hard at work with our state partners Lambda Legal, ACLU of Texas, the Transgender Education Network of Texas, HRC, and the Texas Freedom Network to create resources for parents and kids to know what their rights are regarding HB 25 and what to do if a student is accused of being on the “wrong” team.
We’re also gearing up for the 2022 elections, our best opportunity to hold legislators accountable for their actions this session. The elections across the country last week rewarded politicians who campaigned on fear mongering — whether it was censoring conversations about race at school, perpetuating the spectre of voter fraud in the 2020 elections, or painting transgender youth as a threat.
In order to stop this momentum, we’ll all have to turn out for the truth and for each other. Turn OUT for Texas this election cycle and support our electoral work.
During this week’s election the city of Pflugerville voted to add explicit nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ individuals and move to gender-neutral wording in their city charter. There are no statewide or federal protections for the LGBTQ+ community, so every Texas city that chooses nondiscrimination goes a long way to keeping us all safe.
We accomplished a lot this session. We held the line for 9 months, beating back a record-breaking number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills. Though HB 25 passed, the result would have been much worse had it not been for your steadfast support.
300+ Equality Texans showed up to testify at the State Capitol;
600+ Equality Texans gathered at 19 rallies;
800+ written testimonies were submitted in opposition to anti-LGBTQ+ bills;
750 advocates attended 27 E² trainings;
Contributing to the defeat of 75 anti-LGBTQ+ bills.
This is the power of our community. This is how we band together to make the world a safer place for every LGBTQ+ Texan. Though the road is long, we’ve built something amazing this year that is just the beginning.
Click here to support Equality Texas and help us engage and educate voters in the upcoming elections. Let’s continue to work together to ensure we never experience another legislative year like this one.