There’s no break from hate at the Texas legislature.
Today — Friday, August 6 — is the last day of the first special session of 2021. Governor Abbott announced just yesterday that the legislature will reconvene for the second special session of 2021, beginning Saturday, August 7. That’s right: tomorrow at noon, transgender youth will again be the target of the Texas Legislature.
Of the 17 items on the Governor’s agenda, legislation that forcibly excludes transgender youth from their peers by banning them from participating in sports that align with their gender identity is listed. Despite absolutely zero issues with transgender athletes participating in this summer’s Olympics or in K-12 sports in Texas, the legislature continues to prioritize attacks against children who already face enormous barriers in their daily lives.
In the over 30 years that Equality Texas has been at the Capitol, we’ve never seen such a sustained and cruel attack on LGBTQ+ Texans. We will rally, testify, lobby, and make sure the Texas Lege knows that we will continue to fight for trans youth to live in an affirming and welcoming state. Help us fight back tomorrow with a gift to the Special Session Fund today.
As for the other 16 items, many are carry-overs from the first special session, including voter suppression and bans on teaching about systemic racism. New items on the agenda include providing COVID-19 relief funds to healthcare systems and legislation relating to “legislative quorum requirements.”
Last winter when COVID-19 hospitalization rates were high, the Governor authorized additional staff for hospitals in need. As Delta variant cases have surged, hospitals again requested help. Those requests have been denied only to have the issue added to the special session agenda — effectively holding relief hostage through the special session as hospitals struggle.
Attacking transgender children.
Withholding COVID-19 relief.
Governor Abbott is making one thing clear: his priority is politics, not Texans.
All eyes will be on the Texas Democrats. Now that the Governor has called a new, second special session, it’s their move. There must be a quorum for work to restart in the Texas House.
Regardless of what happens in the Texas House, the state Senate will likely repeat their performance from the first special session, passing most of the items on the Governor’s agenda within the first week. That means hearings on bills attacking transgender youth are imminent. If you witnessed the SB 2 and SB 32 hearings you know the treatment that parents and advocates endured by politicians during the hearing was hard to watch.
Parents and advocates shared unequivocal evidence that Texas children have already been harmed by seeing their lives debated in these sports bans. Legislators willingly ignored the real harm that anti-trans sports bans are inflicting on kids, revealing the intent of policies like this: cruelty is the point and trans kids and adults are paying the price.
If the Democrats do not return and keep legislation from moving in the House, then any Senate hearings would be solely performative. If this is the case, we will look for alternate ways to fight anti-transgender legislation without exposing advocates to the trauma of testifying without any allies in the room. As we have for decades, we will do our best to protect LGBTQ+ Texans from the hostility of anti-equality opponents.
We know this limbo is hard.
It’s incredibly difficult to stand against attacks that never seem to end.
We will never stop fighting to defend LGBTQ+ Texans at the legislature and in all walks of life.
One way to get involved now is to sign up for our Special Session Strategy meeting this coming Thursday. Thank you for your spirit, your strength, and your resilience during this brutal year of uncertainty. We’ll keep you updated on our next moves and other ways to be involved.