In the Spotlight
Latest Headlines
Liberty Must Include LGBTQ+ Texans
Posted on February 16, 2023 at 8:20 pm

Press contact:

Statement from Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas:

Tonight at the State of the State, Governor Abbott outlined his ambitions for the 88th Legislative session. One of his emergency priorities is “Educational Freedom.” While describing his own upbringing in Texas schools, he was nostalgic for a vision of our country as “the beacon of liberty and opportunity.” A few short breaths later, he openly railed against “wokeism” in schools and committed to protecting the “rights of parents.”

While the Governor did not take the time to define his terms, we can safely assume that his use of “wokeism” was derisive. However, if the options are either to be “woke” or to be asleep to the realities of Texans in the 21st century, then we will wear the stamp of “wokeness” with pride. Whether or not a child is LGBTQ+, they deserve to learn about the beautiful diversity of the LGBTQ+ community. Having those conversations at an early age instills habits of respect and compassion—values that all Texans hold dear.

The Governor touted his plan to extend “parental rights”—a cunning way to pretend that every parent is included, but there is an invisible asterisk. The fine print excludes thousands of LGBTQ+ Texans. We’ve seen lawmakers use the notion of “parental rights” to empower a vocal minority of parents to veto lessons about different types of families, if it makes them uncomfortable. All parents want their kids to grow up learning compassion and respect. We must trust teachers to translate the complexity of Texans’ lives into age-appropriate lessons about the beautiful panoply of people that live in this state, including LGBTQ+ people. LGBTQ+ young people have a right to learn about the long struggle for equality, the challenges we still face today, and the joys of being queer. If the governor wants Texas to be a beacon of liberty, why does it look like he favors censorship?

We believe in the vision that Governor Abbott cast of his childhood schools. While the Governor pines for a time when people of different backgrounds and genders were not treated with equal dignity and respect, we strive for a Texas where all are included.  We can be a beacon to the world—a beacon of liberty. We do that by acknowledging the brilliant diversity of our state. The responsibility that comes with being such a vibrant state is that our public schools must prepare students to live and work among the diverse population that will one day be their peers and colleagues.