Protecting Youth
Protecting Youth

Texans believe that protecting others—particularly those who cannot protect themselves—is a core personal value and a tenet of most faith traditions. And yet, many Texas children face discrimination, harassment, bullying, and homelessness.

  • No child should fear going to school because of harassment. Every Texas student—including young people who are gay and transgender—deserves an education free from the harmful physical and emotional effects of harassment and bullying. In schools across Texas, thousands of children dread going to school to face the taunts, jeers, humiliation, physical intimidation and pain inflicted through harassment and bullying.
  • Currently there is no law in Texas prohibiting discrimination in public schools based on sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. Although the state’s largest school districts have policies prohibiting such discrimination, students, parents and teachers in many school districts throughout the state have no protection. The State of Texas should prohibit discrimination based on ethnicity, skin color, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, religion, or national origin of the employee, student, or student’s parent.
  • Every student deserves a fair chance to succeed in school and prepare for their future, including students who are transgender. Every student should be treated fairly and equally under the law, and protecting transgender students helps ensure that they have the same opportunity as their classmates to fully participate in school. Forcing transgender students into restrooms that don’t match their gender identity puts their safety at risk. School administrators have long been able to accommodate the needs of their students without banning transgender students from common spaces. School districts across the country have successfully worked to ensure that transgender students have access to facilities that match their gender identity while still protecting the privacy of all students. A school’s responsibility and ability to keep all students safe is not compromised by allowing a transgender student to use facilities consistent with their gender identity.
  • Every child deserves loving parents who care for them, but not every child is blessed with such parents. When we don’t care for these kids, we as a state lose out on the gift of their potential. A 2014 study indicates that as many as 40% of homeless youth are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. While homelessness among all youth is a great concern, research indicates that LGBT homeless youth are at a far greater risk of suicide and sexual assault. Current law requires parental consent for most minors to be able to access housing services such as homeless shelters. This requirement prevents LGBTQ youth who may have been kicked out by their parents from accessing safe housing. LGBTQ minors with unsupportive parents need a pathway to access safe housing. Texas should create a mechanism to allow minors experiencing parental abandonment, or who face unsafe situations at home, to legally arrange for their own housing.
  • It is a felony in Texas to engage in sexual contact with a person under the age of 17. However the law creates an “out” in situations where the contact was consensual, the parties involved are over the age of 14, the parties are with-in three years of each other’s age and are of the opposite sex. This is a logical approach to the reality that adolescents sometimes make sexual decisions that adults may wish they hadn’t made, but that adolescents have been making since the beginning of time. This “out” does not exist for teen sweethearts who are dating someone of the same sex, creating a risk that a teenager may be sent to prison and forced to register as a sex offender for becoming physical with their sweetheart. The state should not intrude on the right of parents to instill their values about sex into their children. Teenagers sometimes make decisions that we as adults know are not what’s best for them, but that needs to be a conversation between parents and their children… not between parents, their children, the arresting officer, the bailiff, the prosecuting attorney and the trial judge. Texas should remove the provision requiring the parties to be of the opposite sex.
  • Every young person’s identity as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender should be honored, celebrated and supported. Few practices hurt LGBT youth more than attempts to change their sexual orientation or gender identity through so-called “conversion therapy”, which can cause depression, substance abuse, and even suicide. But some mental health providers continue to subject young LGBT people to these practices—also known as “reparative therapy,” “ex-gay therapy,” or “sexual orientation change efforts”—even though they have been condemned by every major medical and mental health organization in the country. Texas should create a penalty for licensed health professionals who claim their treatment can change the sexual orientation or gender identity or expression of a minor.

Equality Texas is committed to building a state in which every young person’s identity as LGBT is honored, celebrated, respected, and supported.


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HB 226
Introduced: 11/14/16
Authors: Howard | Coleman
Status: 2/13/17 Referred to Public Health
Improving HIV/AIDS prevention programs. Read Text of Bill
HB 331
Introduced: 11/14/16
Authors: Gonzalez, Mary
Status: 3/14/17 Referred directly to subcommittee on Education Quality - Public Education
Equalizing access to the “Romeo & Juliet” defense, and providing instruction in schools on consent in sexual relationships. Read Text of Bill
HB 569
Introduced: 12/12/16
Authors: Israel
Status: 2/28/16 Referred to State Affairs
Relating to unprofessional conduct by mental health providers who attempt to change the sexual orientation of a child; providing penalties. Read Text of Bill
HB 1547
Introduced: 2/6/17
Authors: Gonzalez, Mary
Status: 3/9/17 Referred to Public Education
Providing age appropriate, medically accurate human sexuality education in public schools. Companion: SB 1104 Read Text of Bill
HB 2355
Introduced: 2/23/17
Authors: Thierry
Status: 3/16/17 Referred to Higher Education
Providing measures to assist homeless students at public institutions of higher education. Read Text of Bill
HB 4124
Introduced: 3/10/17
Authors: Rodriguez, Eddie
Status: 3/31/17 Referred to Human Services
Providing for a foster children’s bill of rights. Read Text of Bill
SB 1104
Introduced: 2/27/17
Authors: Watson
Status: 3/7/17 Referred to Education
Providing age appropriate, medically accurate human sexuality education in public schools. Companion: HB 1547 Read Text of Bill
SB 1342
Introduced: 3/6/17
Authors: Garcia
Status: 3/14/17 Referred to State Affairs
Prohibiting nonconsensual genital surgery on minors with intersex traits Read Text of Bill
Opposed Legislation
SB 91
Introduced: 7/19/2017
Authors: Kolkhorst
Status: 7/21/2017: Left pending in committee - Senate State Affairs Committee
"Bathroom bill" - prohibiting transgender Texans from using restroom and changing facilities consistent with their gender identity. Read Text of Bill
SB 3
Introduced: 7/19/2017
Authors: Kolkhorst
Status: 7/27/2017: House received from the Senate
"Bathroom bill" - prohibiting transgender Texans from using restroom and changing facilities consistent with their gender identity. Read Text of Bill
SB 23
Introduced: 7/10/2017
Authors: Hall
Status: Filed
Prohibiting any local authority from providing nondiscrimination protections not otherwise provided in state law; repealing any existing local protections that are broader than state law. Read Text of Bill
HB 50
Introduced: 7/10/2017
Authors: Simmons
Status: 7/20/2017: Referred to House State Affairs Committee
"Bathroom bill" vehicle: Statewide preemption bill prohibiting any school district board of trustees from protecting a class of persons from discrimination with regard to accessing multiple-occupancy restrooms, showers, or changing facilities. Take Action Read Text of Bill
HB 46
Introduced: 7/10/2017
Authors: Simmons
Status: 7/20/2017: Referred to House State Affairs Committee
"Bathroom bill" vehicle: Statewide preemption bill prohibiting any political subdivision of the state from protecting a class of persons from discrimination with regard to accessing multiple-occupancy restrooms, showers, or changing facilities. Take Action Read Text of Bill
SB 2095
Introduced: 3/10/2017
Authors: Hall
Status: 5/18/17: Left pending in committee - House Public Education
Relating to regulation of steroid use by students participating in athletic competitions sponsored or sanctioned by the University Interscholastic League. Read Text of Bill
HB 4097
Introduced: 3/10/17
Authors: Cain
Status: 4/3/17 Referred to State Affairs
Prohibiting any local authority from providing nondiscrimination protections not otherwise provided in state law; repealing any existing local protections that are broader than state law. Companion: SB 92 Read Text of Bill Read Issue Brief
HB 2899
Introduced: 3/6/17
Authors: Simmons
Status: 4/19/17: Left pending in committee - House State Affairs
Committee Substitute: House version of bathroom bill. Read Text of Bill Read Issue Brief
SB 2096
Introduced: 3/10/17
Authors: Hall
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Providing the providers of psychological & counseling services the right to refuse service to clients if doing so conflicts with sincerely held religious beliefs. Companion: HB 3856 Read Text of Bill Read Issue Brief
SB 1536
Introduced: 3/8/17
Authors: Campbell
Status: 3/21/17 Referred to State Affairs
Providing the providers of child welfare services the right to refuse service to clients if doing so conflicts with sincerely held religious beliefs. Read Text of Bill Read Issue Brief
HB 3859
Introduced: 3/10/17
Authors: Frank
Status: 5/22/17: Passed by the Senate
Providing the providers of child welfare services the ability to discriminate and refuse service to clients if doing so conflicts with sincerely held religious beliefs. Read Text of Bill Read Issue Brief
HB 3856
Introduced: 3/10/17
Authors: Rinaldi
Status: 3/30/17 Referred to State Affairs
Providing the providers of psychological & counseling services the right to refuse service to clients if doing so conflicts with sincerely held religious beliefs. Companion: SB 2096 Read Text of Bill Read Issue Brief
HB 3571
Introduced: 3/9/17
Authors: Oliverson
Status: 3/30/17 Referred to State Affairs
Providing a religious exemption from any civil action claiming discrimination, or violation of a municipal ordinance for discrimination, based on any characteristic other than race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability. Read Text of Bill Read Issue Brief
HB 2878
Introduced: 3/3/17
Authors: Sanford
Status: 3/29/17 Referred to State Affairs
Providing health care professionals the right to refuse to treat patients if doing so conflicts with sincerely held religious beliefs. Read Text of Bill Read Issue Brief
HB 2876
Introduced: 3/5/17
Authors: Sanford
Status: 3/29/17 Referred to State Affairs
Providing wedding industry professionals and employees the right to refuse service to clients if doing so conflicts with sincerely held religious beliefs. Read Text of Bill Read Issue Brief
HB 2795
Introduced: 3/3/17
Authors: Lang
Status: 3/30/17 Referred to County Affairs
Providing county clerks and deputy county clerks the ability to decline to provide a marriage license if doing so conflicts with their sincerely held religious beliefs. Read Text of Bill Read Issue Brief
HB 2779
Introduced: 3/2/17
Authors: Schaefer
Status: 3/27/17 Referred to State Affairs
Providing broad-based ability to decline to provide services to anyone if providing the service conflicts with sincerely held religious beliefs. Applies to adoption & foster care, employment, housing, marriage-related licensing, ceremonies, and services; sex reassignment, psychological, counseling & fertility services; sex-based dress, grooming, & bathroom access; licensing & accreditation. Read Text of Bill Read Issue Brief
SB 893
Introduced: 2/14/17
Authors: Hughes
Status: 2/28/17 Referred to State Affairs
Providing individuals and businesses the ability to decline to provide services to anyone if providing the service conflicts with the individual’s or businesses sincerely held religious beliefs. Companion: HB 1923 Read Text of Bill Read Issue Brief
SB 892
Introduced: 2/14/17
Authors: Perry
Status: 4/19/17 Left pending in committee - Senate Health & Human Services
Providing child welfare service providers the ability to decline to provide, facilitate, or refer a person for child welfare services if it conflicts with the provider’s sincerely held religious beliefs. Companion: HB 3859 Take Action Read Text of Bill Read Issue Brief
SB 651
Introduced: 1/27/17
Authors: Perry | Birdwell | Hughes
Status: 2/14/17 Referred to Business & Commerce
Redefines and expands the definition of religious expression, and limits the enforcement of rules, regulations, and policies of state agencies that regulate business, occupation or professional licensing. Read Text of Bill Read Issue Brief
SB 522
Introduced: 1/19/17
Authors: Birdwell
Status: 5/20/17: Committee report sent to Calendars
Allowing county clerks to pass off issuing marriage licenses to other certifying officials if issuing that marriage license conflicts with the clerk’s sincerely held religious beliefs. Companion: HB 1813 Take Action Read Text of Bill Read Issue Brief
SB 92
Introduced: 11/14/16
Authors: Hall
Status: 1/24/17 Referred to Business & Commerce
Prohibiting any local authority from providing nondiscrimination protections not otherwise provided in state law; repealing any existing local protections that are broader than state law. Companion: HB 4097 Read Text of Bill Read Issue Brief
SB 89
Introduced: 11/14/16
Authors: Hall
Status: 1/24/17 Referred to State Affairs
Providing for the state of Texas to refuse to enforce any federal law deemed to violate the Texas Constitution. Read Text of Bill
SB 6
Introduced: 1/5/17
Authors: Kolkhorst
Status: 3/16/17 House received from the Senate
Prohibiting transgender Texans from using restroom and changing facilities consistent with their gender identity. Read Text of Bill Read Issue Brief
HB 1923
Introduced: 2/15/17
Authors: Krause
Status: 3/13/17 Referred to State Affairs
Providing individuals and businesses the ability to decline to provide services to anyone if providing the service conflicts with the individual’s or businesses sincerely held religious beliefs. Companion: SB 893 Read Text of Bill Read Issue Brief
HB 1813
Introduced: 2/13/17
Authors: Flynn
Status: 05/03/2017: Left pending in committee - House State Affairs
Allowing county clerks to pass off issuing marriage licenses to other certifying officials if issuing that marriage license conflicts with the clerk’s sincerely held religious beliefs. Companion: SB 522 Read Text of Bill Read Issue Brief
HB 1805
Introduced: 2/13/17
Authors: Sanford
Status: 3/22/17 Referred to State Affairs
Providing child welfare service providers the ability to decline to provide, facilitate, or refer a person for child welfare services if it conflicts with the provider’s sincerely held religious beliefs. Companion: SB 892 Read Text of Bill Read Issue Brief
HB 1362
Introduced: 1/30/17
Authors: Shaheen
Status: 2/27/17 Referred to State Affairs
Prohibiting public schools from implementing policies that would allow transgender Texans to use restroom and changing facilities consistent with their gender identity. Read Text of Bill Read Issue Brief
HB 428
Introduced: 11/21/16
Authors: King, Phil | Phillips | Sanford | Murphy
Status: 2/21/17 Referred to Higher Education
Providing religious student organizations an exemption from nondiscrimination policies of public institutions of higher education if such policies do not conform to the student organization’s sincerely held religious beliefs. Read Text of Bill Read Issue Brief