Connect with us

Texas

Texas Gov. introduces ‘Parental Bill of Rights’ amid LGBTQ+ book banning

The bill would amend the state’s constitution to “reinforce parents are the primary decision makers in all matters involving their children”

Published

on

Campaign reelection event photo from Texas Governor Greg Abbott's Personal Twitter Feed

LEWISVILLE, Tx. – Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott introduced plans to amend the state constitution to give parents primary power over their child’s education amid the governor’s effort to censor LGBTQ authors in schools. 

Abbott introduced the proposal – deemed the “Parental Bill of Rights” – Thursday at a campaign stop in Lewisville, Texas. The governor is running for a third term in the state’s 2022 election. 

The bill would amend the state’s constitution to “reinforce that parents are the primary decision makers in all matters involving their children,” according to a press release.

“The fact is no government program can or should replace the role that parents play in their children’s lives,” he said. “That’s why as Governor, I have fought to defend the rights of parents, whether it comes to education or health care.”

Among other things, the bill would expand parents’ access to course curriculum and materials available in schools, Abbott said. 

“When it comes to the classroom, Texas parents should have every right to know what their children are being taught,” he said. 

He added: “We will ensure that if a parent has a concern about curriculum or policies, that those concerns are heard quickly and respectfully.”

The announcement comes as Republican lawmakers in Texas, including Abbott, continue to target content they perceive as “inappropriate” in schools, much of which includes books by or about LGBTQ people. 

In November, the governor directed the Texas Education Agency to develop standards preventing “pornography” and other “obscene content in Texas public schools,” citing two memoirs about LGBTQ characters: “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe and “In the Dream House” by Carmen Maria Machado. Both books deal with some mature topics but are recommended for high school-aged kids. 

Soon after the order, he instructed the agency to investigate “the availability of pornography” in the state’s public schools system. 

Last year, prominent civil rights organizations denounced Abbott’s efforts to censor LGBTQ authors. 

“Gov. Abbott’s letters labeling coming-of-age stories as pornography simply because they involve LGBTQ people are attempts to create educational environments rife with censorship of ideas and topics that students deserve to have access to,” said Avatara Smith-Carrington, staff attorney at Lambda Legal. “Students need materials and information created with them in mind, in which they can see their own identities and experiences reflected.”

At the event, Abbott also touted his efforts to ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) – a college-level examination of the intersection of race and law that has become a hot button issue for Republicans – in schools, highlighting two bills he signed last year. “Now Texas has the toughest anti-CRT protections in the nation,” he said. 

“But, there is more we must do to preserve the rights of parents and give our children the future they deserve,” he added, referring to his Parental Bill of Rights.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Texas

Texas will resume anti-Trans youth abuse investigations

“To be clear the Supreme Court has not directed Commissioner Masters & DFPS to continue investigating parents of trans youth for child abuse”

Published

on

Texas DFPS HDQTRS Austin (Julia Reihs/KUT via Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas)

AUSTIN – In a statement issued Thursday, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) agency announced that it will resume abuse investigations into families with transgender kids.

“DFPS treats all reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation seriously and will continue to investigate each to the full extent of the law,” the statement read.

The Dallas Morning News reported that the DFPS statement, while not addressing the investigations into medical treatments for trans youth, indirectly indicated that these probes will now continue.

Current state law does not explicitly define gender affirming medical treatments, such as puberty blockers and hormone therapy as child abuse. A DFPS spokesman did not comment when asked if the agency plans to continue investigating such treatments as child abuse, the Dallas Morning News noted.

The Texas Supreme Court ruled last week that DFPS can continue to investigate families in the state who provide medically necessary care for their Trans children, excluding the parties in the litigation that brought the matter forward in a lawsuit filed in March.

In its decision, the court emphasized that neither Attorney General Paxton nor Governor Abbott has the power or authority to direct DFPS to investigate the provision of medically necessary lifesaving health care for transgender youth as child abuse. But the court limited the order blocking all investigations to the specific plaintiffs who filed suit.

Trans activist Landon Richie who has been deeply involved in the efforts to mitigate the anti-trans actions by Texas lawmakers and has led protests against the transphobic actions by Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton told the Blade:

“To be clear, the Texas Supreme Court has not directed Commissioner Masters and DFPS to continue investigating parents of trans youth for child abuse. While the decision means now only the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit have protection, it reiterates that Attorney General Paxton’s opinion and Governor Abbott’s letter are not binding and not enforceable, meaning DFPS’s actions moving forward are at the discretion of Commissioner Masters only and not the state leadership’s directives. The Texas Supreme Court allowing for the district court to provide a temporary injunction is a good sign for people’s protection. 

It bears reminding families in Texas and around the country that today’s decision (and yesterday’s regarding gender-affirming care at UT Southwestern and Texas Children’s) reaffirms what we already know: opinions are only opinions and the people in power cannot abuse that power to abuse trans people. We know decisions can change at a moment’s notice and that this fight will take years, but to our families and communities under attack, please remain strong and take a moment to breathe. We’re in this together. “

An employee of DFPS who was a litigant in the lawsuit is represented by the ACLU of Texas.

Brian Klosterboer, an attorney with the ACLU of Texas who is on the team representing that unnamed employee, said the state’s decision to reopen the cases is unfortunate and unlawful. He said his team believes that the high court’s decision removes any responsibility for Texans to report trans youth getting treatments, the Dallas Morning News reported.

“We are going to be closely monitoring what the agency does. We would encourage families that have any reason to believe that they have an investigation to seek legal help,” Klosterboer said.

“Abbott’s letter and Paxton’s opinion did not change Texas law,” he added. “Gender affirming health care is still legal in all 50 states.”

Continue Reading

Texas

Equality Texas launches video to highlight LGBTQ+ rights struggle

Trans kids have been the target of political attacks, and lawmakers have been abusing their authority to bully health care providers

Published

on

Los Angeles Blade graphic

AUSTIN – On the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia, Equality Texas announces the launch of a short animated video that highlights the struggle of Texas trans kids and their families.

For the past two years trans kids have been the target of political attacks, and lawmakers have been abusing their authority to bully health care providers from caring for their trans patients. Children’s health care decisions should be a collaboration between parents, their doctors, and the patients themselves.

This video illustrates the pain that parents and trans kids feel when politicians insert themselves into the doctor’s office.

Fear thrives on misinformation. Many Texans, including Texas politicians, don’t understand the lived experience of trans people. But they don’t need to. We all live in our own bodies 24/7, and we each understand our own healthcare needs better than anyone else.

Full Length English Version:
https://vimeo.com/710377667


Full Length Spanish Version:
https://vimeo.com/710424262


30 second PSA preview English version:
https://vimeo.com/710447381

30 second PSA preview Spanish version:
https://vimeo.com/710496797

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. 

Continue Reading

Texas

Texas Supreme Court partially blocks cases investigating Trans families

A district court previously determined the governor’s directives targeting families of trans youth were issued without proper authority

Published

on

Landon Richie leading a protest for Trans rights at the Texas State Capitol in 2019 (Blade file photo)

AUSTIN – The Texas Supreme Court Friday ruled that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) can continue to investigate families in the state who provide medically necessary care for their Trans children, excluding the parties in the litigation that brought the matter forward in a lawsuit filed in March.

The DFPS investigation into the Travis County family of a transgender teen that sued the state earlier this year was blocked by a lower appellate court injunction. The high court did uphold the injunction into that case barring further action by DFPS. However, the court struck down a statewide injunction issued by the lower court Friday on procedural grounds, leaving open the state’s ability to have DFPS once again investigate other families that provide gender-affirming care.

The justices however, questioned why DFPS had acted in the first case.

In its decision, the court emphasized that neither Attorney General Paxton nor Governor Abbott has the power or authority to direct DFPS to investigate the provision of medically necessary lifesaving health care for transgender youth as child abuse. But the court limited the order blocking all investigations to the specific plaintiffs who filed suit.

The Texas Tribune noted:

“The Governor and the Attorney General were certainly well within their rights to state their legal and policy views on this topic, but DFPS was not compelled by law to follow them,” Friday’s ruling reads. “DFPS’s press statement, however, suggests that DFPS may have considered itself bound by either the Governor’s letter, the Attorney General’s Opinion, or both. Again, nothing before this Court supports the notion that DFPS is so bound.”

The ruling does note the myriad “informal mechanisms” through which elected officials can influence a state agency, but “ultimately, however, one department or another has the final say.”

DFPS employees have told The Texas Tribune that agency leadership has acknowledged that these investigations do not meet the current requirements for child abuse and have said policy would need to be generated to match the governor’s directives.

Trans activist Landon Richie who has been deeply involved in the efforts to mitigate the anti-trans actions by Texas lawmakers and has led protests against the transphobic actions by Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton told the Blade Friday;

“To be clear, the Texas Supreme Court has not directed Commissioner Masters and DFPS to continue investigating parents of trans youth for child abuse. While the decision means now only the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit have protection, it reiterates that Attorney General Paxton’s opinion and Governor Abbott’s letter are not binding and not enforceable, meaning DFPS’s actions moving forward are at the discretion of Commissioner Masters only and not the state leadership’s directives. The Texas Supreme Court allowing for the district court to provide a temporary injunction is a good sign for people’s protection. 

It bears reminding families in Texas and around the country that today’s decision (and yesterday’s regarding gender-affirming care at UT Southwestern and Texas Children’s) reaffirms what we already know: opinions are only opinions and the people in power cannot abuse that power to abuse trans people. We know decisions can change at a moment’s notice and that this fight will take years, but to our families and communities under attack, please remain strong and take a moment to breathe. We’re in this together. “

Shannon Minter, the Legal Director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights told the Blade: “This decision is a huge step forward for transgender kids and their families. The court made clear that the state child welfare authorities have no obligation to investigate these families and, rightly, expressed concern about why the Governor sought to interfere with parents’ decisions about their children’s medical care.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Texas, and Lambda Legal issued the following joint statement:

“Today’s decision is a win for our clients and the rule of law. The Texas Supreme Court made clear that the attorney general and governor do not have the authority to order DFPS to take any action against families that support their children by providing them with the highest standards of medical care. The court rejected the attorney general’s arguments that our lawsuit should be dismissed and affirmed that DFPS is not required to follow the governor’s directive or the attorney general’s non-binding opinion.

“Though the court limited its order to the Doe family and Dr. Mooney, it reaffirmed that Texas law has not changed and no mandatory reporter or DFPS employee is required to take any action based on the governor’s directive and attorney general opinion. By upholding the injunction, the court left in place the lower court’s decision that investigations based solely on the provision of medically necessary health care cause irreparable harm. It would be unconscionable for DFPS to continue these lawless investigations while this lawsuit continues, and we will not stop fighting the protect the safety and lives of transgender youth here in Texas.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton saw the high court’s ruling as a victory vowing to keep up efforts to go after the families and healthcare providers for the transgender children tweeting:

“The district court previously determined that the governor and DFPS’s directives targeting families of transgender youth were issued without proper authority, in violation of the Texas Administrative Procedure Act, the separation of powers requirements of the Texas Constitution, and the constitutional rights of transgender youth and their parents,” ACLU of Texas said in a statement.

Anyone who is affected by these orders can find legal, mental health, and other resources at txtranskids.org or the Lambda Legal help desk.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @LosAngelesBlade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular