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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”



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.


Texas Drag Bingo Night sees armed protestors engage one another

“It’s no different than someone dressed up like a superhero at a comic convention or someone who puts on a Halloween costume”



Anti-LGBTQ activist outside church drag bingo event in Katy, Texas (Screenshot/YouTube KHOU CBS 11)

KATY, Tx. – The First Christian Church on Morton Ranch Road located in the suburban Houston, Texas metropolitan area was sponsoring an event to raise money for a clothing drive for Trans youth this past Saturday evening.

Billed as a Drag Bingo Night the event was advertised on social media platforms which drew the attention of anti-LGBTQ activists and extremists.

KPRC-TV Click2Houston reported that the opposing groups of anti-LGBTQ+ and groups in support of the LGBTQ+ community verbally confronted each other in heated arguments that were separated by Katy Police and the Harris County Sheriff’s office.

Local CBS affiliate KHOU 11 reported that the heavily armed law enforcement officers formed a line in the median in an effort to keep the two sides separate. As the crowds grew bigger and bigger, more officers arrived.

Cesar Franco, who was with an anti-LGBTQ+ protest group who said “sexualizing and child-grooming kids by exposing them to drag culture is an abomination!” Founder of Urban Conservatives of America, Jonathan McCullough said: “We are out here to push back on things that society knows is wrong. They are having an event, welcoming children to drag queen bingo hour. This is unacceptable.”

There was pushback KHOU CBS 11 noting that across the street, counter-protesters had a different message.

“That is nonsense, because drag in itself is just a costume,” said one person supporting the event. “It’s no different than someone dressed up like a superhero at a comic convention or someone who puts on a Halloween costume.”

Problematically for law enforcement was that both sides had heavily armed people not wanting to back down. Each side spent much of the afternoon yelling at each other with megaphones.

Despite the chaos, a pastor told KHOU 11 the event was a sold-out success.

“We know that not everyone will agree with us, so we create a place for people to feel welcomed and understand there will always be people who don’t agree with us,” the pastor said.

Dueling rallies held outside Katy church outside drag queen bingo fundraiser event:

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Texas court blocks CPS from investigating PFLAG trans families

The directive could have led to transgender youth being placed in foster care and their parents criminally charged with child abuse



Amber Briggle and her son Max (Briggle/Facebook)

AUSTIN – The Travis County District Court issued a third injunction today blocking the State of Texas from implementing a directive issued by Republican Governor Greg Abbott that targets trans youth and their families across Texas.

The directive ordered the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to investigate parents who work with medical professionals to provide their adolescent transgender children with medically necessary healthcare.

The directive could have led to transgender youth being placed in foster care and their parents criminally charged with child abuse—just for following the advice of their physicians and mental health providers.

Today’s ruling in PFLAG v. Abbott covers all Texas families who are members of PFLAG National, a national LGBTQ+ organization with 17 chapters in Texas. It also covers Adam and Amber Briggle and their son, Max.

Earlier, the court had issued an injunction blocking DFPS from investigating two other plaintiff families in the PFLAG v. Abbott lawsuit who are anonymous for purposes of the lawsuit. These injunctions became necessary to protect Texas families after the statewide injunction against the directive issued in an earlier lawsuit, Doe v. Abbott, was put on hold during the State’s appeal.

The ruling comes after the plaintiffs notified the court last week that DFPS was continuing intrusive investigations against PFLAG members, including by pulling a student out of class and questioning him at school about his medical history.

“Today, families of transgender kids in Texas who are members of PFLAG National find shelter from Gov. Abbott’s unjust order,” said Brian K. Bond, Executive Director of PFLAG National. “PFLAG, our chapters in Texas and around the country are sources of support and safety from government harm because every LGBTQ+ person deserves respect, dignity and the right to access the care they need when they need it.”

“Again, the court has grasped the magnitude and breadth of the continued harm that Gov. Abbott’s directive and Attorney General Paxton’s opinion would have caused if DFPS was allowed to pursue its investigations,” said Nicholas “Guilly” Guillory, Tyrone Garner Memorial Law Fellow, Lambda Legal. “Families across Texas, since Gov. Abbott issued his directive, have lived in fear of the knock on the door. Even after the Texas Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Abbott could not compel DFPS to conduct investigations, many families remained under investigation. Parents who love their transgender children and work with healthcare providers to support and affirm their well-being should be celebrated, rather than investigated as criminals as the state sought to do here.”

“Once again a Texas court has stepped in to say what we knew from the beginning: State leaders have no business interfering with life-saving care essential for transgender youth,”  said Adri Pérez (they/them), of the ACLU of Texas. “We should trust doctors and every major medical association on how to support transgender youth. State leadership continues to attack parents for how they raise their kids — and all our plaintiffs are doing is providing unconditional love and support for children of all gender identities. We will never stop fighting for the rights, safety, and dignity of transgender Texans.”

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Disney-themed drag brunch cancelled after violent threats in Texas

The threats of violence came after social media posts by the anti-LGBTQ+ Libs Of TikTok and far-right media outlet Blaze TV



Courtesy of Cool Beans Bar & Grill/Facebook

DENTON, Tx. – The Disney-themed drag brunch scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 11 was abruptly cancelled last week after an onslaught of threats of violence to the venue, the Cool Beans Bar and Grill, an LGBTQ+ friendly establishment.

The threats of violence came after social media posts by anti-LGBTQ+ users and far-right media outlet Blaze TV’s host Sara Gonzales, who invited her viewers to join her in shutting the event down.

Denton is home to two state universities with a combined enrollment of over 55,000 students, the University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University, along with North Central Texas College. It is in the same county where barely two weeks ago, crowds were gathered outside a family friendly drag show at Anderson Distillery and Grill, in Roanoke, Texas, some with signs accusing the establishment and its patrons of sexually abusing children, or of “grooming” them for abuse.

The owners of Cool Beans Bar and Grill posted a message on its expressing their disgust over being forced to cancel the event:

A former employee, Megan Queen, described the bar the bar as a welcoming place for the LGBTQ community and said she was heartbroken at the threats made against the establishment, according to the Dallas Observer. 

As with many all-ages LGBTQ+ events this summer – from California to North Carolina – hate was ginned up on social media among right-wing extremists who sought to interrupt the event and disband the attendees. 

Leading up to the event, word was spread on anti-LGBTQ+ Facebook groups like Texas Family Project and Protect Texas Kids, the latter warning, “We need to show up in full force and show that the majority of us are against children being involved in these disturbing, sexually explicit shows.”

Editor’s note, story updated: Reference to anti-LGBTQ+ Twitter account LibsofTikTok removed.

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Texas drag brunch defended by armed counter-protesters

According to reactions on social media, many felt it was about time that right-wing threats & intimidation were responded to in kind



Anti-trans activists protesting a drag brunch in Roanoke, Texas Aug. 28, 2022 (Photo by Steven Monacelli/Twitter)

ROANOKE, Tx – Fueled by months of lies teed up by far-right conspiracy mongers like Libs of TikTok’s Chaya Raichiklike and Georgia Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, what happened on Sunday in Roanoke, Texas, has by now become something of a familiar scene. 

Crowds were gathered outside a family friendly drag show at Anderson Distillery and Grill, close to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, some with signs accusing the establishment and its patrons of sexually abusing children, or of “grooming” them for abuse. 

This time, however, counter-protestors showed up, too. Armed with AR-15 style rifles, they outnumbered the anti-LGBTQ+ activists, according to Steven Monacelli, a journalist with Rolling Stone and Texas Observer, who was there to witness the heated exchanges and document some of the conflict on Twitter

As with many all-ages LGBTQ+ events this summer – from California to North Carolina – hate was ginned up on social media among right-wing extremists who sought to interrupt the event and disband the attendees. 

Leading up to the event, word was spread on anti-LGBTQ+ Facebook groups like Texas Family Project and Protect Texas Kids, the latter warning, “We need to show up in full force and show that the majority of us are against children being involved in these disturbing, sexually explicit shows.”

The event hosted by Anderson Distillery and Grill was called, “Barrel Babes Drag Brunch” described as, “similar to a variety show with professional drag artists lip-syncing, dancing and performing comedy routines.” The owner said there would be no sexual content or erotic behavior. 

A man identified as a member of the far-right Proud Boys was photographed at the protest on Sunday. Some of the signs from anti-LGBTQ+ protestors read: “Christ is KING,” “Drag the queens out of town,” “Children cannot consent,” “Stop sexualizing children,” and “Caution: Monkeypox hotspot approx. 50 ft away. Stay back.”

(Reddit material derived from Twitter thread by journalist Steven Monacelli)

The Proud Boys has made its presence known at multiple all-ages LGBTQ+ events this summer. On June 11, members of the far-right gang shouted homophobic and transphobic slurs at performers who were reading to kids during Drag Queen story hour at the San Lorenzo, CA library. Days later, in Wilmington, North Carolina, parents and children were terrorized when a group of 15 masked militants affiliated with the pro-Trump group marched into the library and disrupted a family friendly LGBTQ+ event for more than 90 minutes. 

According to reactions on social media, many on the left felt it was about time that right-wing homophobic and transphobic threats and intimidation were responded to in kind. 

@BossBunny503 wrote: “Time for us to do this on the Left. I’m done with being intimidated by #ProudBoys, #PatriotFront even cops! Fuck #fascism! If the only way to beat #facists is with militias and the threat of violence so be it!”

Beginning last September, HB1927 made it legal in Texas for most people aged 21 or over to open-carry or concealed-carry a gun in a holster without a permit. 

The presence of an armed contingent of counter-protestors in Texas on Sunday recalled some of the scenes that played out in 2017 over white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. There, a group of about 20 anti-racist and anti-capitalists, called the Redneck Revolt, formed a perimeter around the counter-protestors in Justice Park. They were armed with rifles. 

Other notable recent examples have included some of the protests over police killings of unarmed black men like George Floyd during the summer of 2020. Reuters reports that racists carrying Confederate battle flags in the Atlanta, Georgia suburb of Stone Mountain were met with some armed left-wing protestors, prompting a clash and the intervention of members of law enforcement. 

“A pattern among the clashes was rising tensions between right and left wing groups after nearly three months of protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody and President Donald Trump’s ‘law and order’ response to demonstrations,” Reuters wrote.

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Texas school district imposes ‘Don’t Say Trans’ policy

“I transferred to another district this year because of the culture of fear you continue to create,” said one LGBTQ+ student



Texas Trans youth protest anti-Trans policies and laws at state capitol Spring 2021 (Photo courtesy of Landon Richie)

By Steven Monacelli | GRAPEVINE, Tx. – The parking lot was packed Monday evening when I arrived at the administrative headquarters of the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District (GCISD), from which I graduated over a decade ago.

Four pop-up tents had been set up in the parking lot by conservative activist groups who held a tailgate party ahead of the meeting. Among the tailgaters was Julie McCarty, the founder of the True Texas Project, a right-wing group descended from the NE Tarrant Tea Party that’s been designated an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“We had a huge party in the parking lot to celebrate our victories & enjoy awesome community spirit,” wrote True Texas Project CEO Julie McCarty on Twitter. “Thank you @GCISD & thank you to the @TrueTXProject peeps who supported!”

Immediately outside the building entrance, a handful of students from the district held protest signs. “Our existence is not a controversy,” one sign read. “Let trans kids live, we aren’t threats,” said another.

What drew both groups to the suburban school district meeting in Tarrant County was a 36-page document of proposed district policies that was publicly released only 72 hours earlier. The proposals were championed by the school board’s four-member conservative majority, recently elected with the help of a flood of dark money, part of a nationwide trend in which crusading reactionaries have turned school boards into perches from which to wage war on literature, queer children, and non-existent curricula. Most controversially, the GCISD policies include a total ban on employees engaging in any discussion of what the district defines as “gender fluidity.” 


“For purposes of this policy, ‘Gender Fluidity’ means any theory or ideology that (1) espouses the view that biological sex is merely a social construct, (2) espouses the view that it is possible for a person to be any gender or none (i.e. non-binary) based solely on that person’s feelings or preferences, or (3) espouses the view that an individual’s biological sex should be changed to ‘match’ a self-believed gender that is different from the person’s biological sex,” the measure reads.

Other policies include a ban on “equity audits” across the district and draconian rules on what books are allowed in libraries and classrooms. The language around “inappropriate material” in libraries is particularly vague, defining it in part as “patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable for minors.”

The policies are described by proponents as designed to ensure the district complies with state and federal laws, such as the laws passed by the Texas Legislature explicitly banning the teaching of “critical race theory” in classrooms. Critics, such as the ACLU of Texas, deride the policies as blatantly anti-LGTBQ+ and note that parts of the policies in fact go beyond what is required by state law.

Nearly two hundred people had signed up to speak during the public comment period, a record-breaking number according to board member Jorge Rodríguez. Testimony lasted nearly four hours. Students, parents, alumni, and outside activists alike were each given a mere sixty seconds to voice their opinion on the proposed policies prior to the final vote. Most said they were residents of the district. A few were activists with far-right groups like True Texas Project, Protect Texas Kids, and even the John Birch Society


In terms of the “prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole,” the room was clearly divided. Simple statements of thanks to the board, heartfelt pleas to reconsider the policies, and deranged chest beatings were all on display. One man, Scott Western, shocked some in the room when he delivered a deeply homophobic rant in favor of the policies.

“Fight like hell, hold the line against the LGBT mafia and their dang pedo fans. Keep winning. You know what, keep the winning, they can keep the monkeypox,” Western said. “Woo! Get some. Thank you.”

Western received no condemnation from the board, but one man was warned and eventually ejected by the board president for clapping after speeches in opposition to the policies.

Some of the most compelling speeches came from students and alumni of the district who urged the district to reconsider the proposed measures. “Many already feel that they have to suppress their gender expression in public and fear discrimination,” said one high school junior. “Schools everywhere and in GCISD are supposed to make everyone feel included and safe.”

Another student’s speech personalized that concern in a particularly dramatic fashion.

“I transferred to another district this year because of the culture of fear you continue to create,” the student said. “I am part of the LGBTQ+ community, as are many of my friends that remain in the GCISD schools. The policies you are proposing are putting them in danger. So, what are we afraid of? No, let me rephrase. What are you afraid of?”


After the public comment period concluded, the four conservative members—in keeping with their apparent disdain for free speech—voted to limit comment from the trustees to three minutes each. One opposed member, Rodríguez, tore into the proposal. 

“Now we have a war against librarians, a war against LGTBQ+ students and teachers, and that is why I’m voting against these policies,” Rodríguez said. “We’ve heard from many citizens concerned about these policies, and in years past we don’t get to this point because we go to the community and ask for feedback and input. … I believe this is all political. These board meetings have just become headquarters for political campaigns instead of focusing on what we are here to do, which is to help students succeed.”

Conservative member Tammy Nakamura defended the policies as a justified response to what she sees as the politicization of education and the “overt and nefarious infiltration of social and cultural propaganda in the curriculum, none more damaging to young minds and bodies than the madness of so-called Gender Fluidity Ideology.” 

“Simply put, with the passage of these policies, we have neutralized our classrooms,” Nakamura said. “They will no longer be used as weapons against free market capitalism, against national pride and unity, against traditional American values, and against the biological and social identity of our children.”

At the end of the trustee statements, with less than five hours of public discussion, the proposed policies were all passed by the same 4-3 margin that limited discussion about them.


Steven Monacelli is an investigative journalist in Dallas. His reporting has been featured in Rolling Stone, The Daily Beast, The Real News, Dallas Observer, Dallas Weekly, and more. He is also the publisher of Protean Magazine, a nonprofit literary publication. Follow him on Twitter @stevanzetti.


The preceding article was previously published by The Texas Observer a nonprofit investigative news outlet and is republished by permission.

The Texas Observer believes that journalism is crucial to holding the powerful accountable and essential in the development of a world that protects the lives, and rights, of all human beings. It’s with this spirit that they hope to partner, collaborate and share resources with news outlets also working in the public’s interest.

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Court issues 2nd injunction, blocks Texas investigating more Trans families

The injunction bars DFPS from investigating these families based solely on allegations that they are providing gender affirming care



Travis County District Courthouse, Austin Texas (Photo Credit: County of Travis, Texas government)

AUSTIN – The Travis County District Court entered a second injunction on Friday against the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) and Commissioner Masters, barring them from implementing the agency’s rule expanding the definition of child abuse to presumptively treat the provision of gender affirming care as child abuse.

Friday’s action blocks Texas DFPS from investigating against two more families, Mirabel Voe and her son Antonio, and Wanda Roe and her son Tommy.

The injunction bars DFPS from implementing the rule by investigating these families based solely on allegations that they are providing gender affirming care to their adolescents, or taking any action in open investigations other than to close them so long as DFPS can do so without making further contact with the families. The Court is still considering the request for additional injunctive relief to protect the other clients, the Briggle family and Texas PFLAG members with transgender children.

Today’s ruling came in the lawsuit, PFLAG v. Abbott, filed by Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union Jon L. Stryker and Slobodan Randjelović LGBTQ & HIV Project, the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, the ACLU of Texas, and the law firm of Baker Botts LLP. The legal organizations issued the following statement:

“We are gratified that the Court reiterated that the DFPS rule is unlawful and changed the status quo for Texas transgender youth and their families. The Court recognized yet again that being subjected to an unlawful and unwarranted investigation causes irreparable harm for these families who are doing nothing more than caring for and affirming their children and seeking the best course of care for them in consultation with their medical providers. We are confident that the Court will continue to recognize those harms as it considers the injunction we have requested for PFLAG families, including the Briggles.

“An hour after the District Court’s ruling, Texas has already filed an appeal, seeking permission to continue their persecution of transgender youth and their families. But every court to consider the actions of these Texas officials has recognized both their unlawfulness and the irreparable harms they cause to these families. We will not stop fighting until all Texas families are protected.

Brian K. Bond, Executive Director of PFLAG National also noted in a statement released late Friday afternoon:

“For nearly 50 years, LGBTQ+ people and their families have turned to PFLAG for support in the face of government harm, and have found community and safety within our organization. We are heartened that the Court recognized that Governor Abbott’s order is harmful, and hopeful that the Court will find similarly for PFLAG families. We remain committed to protecting the rights of trans kids and their families to make personal decisions for themselves, and to access gender-affirming care.”

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