Texas government stirs up controversy


Ava Wong

According to GLSEN’s 2019 School Climate Survey, almost all LGBTQ+ students, an astonishing 98.8%, have heard “gay” used in a negative context at school.

Editorial Board, Editorial Board

Attorney General erases LGBTQ+ progress with homophobic claim against Austin ISD

John Smith sits in his room after completing a Pride Week lesson about accepting all students regardless of who they are. He has contemplated coming out for a couple of months now but is hesitant because is worried about what others might think. His Austin Independent School District (AISD) high school has promoted the idea of accepting yourself and others regardless of their preference, but after reading the backlash that pride week has received from parents and government officials, Smith now questions how people will see him once he expresses his true self.

Due to a recent letter sent by Attorney General Ken Paxton, AISD has been under heavy fire for their pride week celebrations. In the letter, Paxton says Austin ISD has broken the law. Paxon said the district must obtain parental permission before any student receives instruction on sex education.

Paxton claimed that pride week is teaching young students about sex education before they are ready, and therefore the celebratory week should be eliminated from AISD. He further stated that liberal school districts are aggressively pushing LGBTQ+ views on Texas kids and proceeded to call the designated week as immoral and illegal. 

We stand with AISD in promoting Pride Week. We believe its intentions are to celebrate LGBTQ+ students and make them feel more comfortable in their school environment, while also educating students more on their LGBTQ+ peers. 

Pride Week is there to celebrate the acceptance of all students, regardless of their personal identity. Throughout the year, we celebrate Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, and more where we educate students on diversity and acceptance. How is Pride Week any different? It aims is to celebrate LGBTQ+ individuals and educate others on their importance and their struggles.

On Twitter, AISD Pride Week posts received harsh retaliation from parents, mostly elementary school parents, claiming that teachers were teaching sex education at a young age. We disagree, and believe that Pride Week wasn’t about sex education but rather educating students on LGBTQ+ awareness and acceptance of those peers. 

According to GLSEN’s 2019 School Climate Survey, almost all LGBTQ+ students, an astonishing 98.8%, have heard “gay” used in a negative context at school. For example, saying “that’s so gay” in a derogatory way. Moreover, 91.8% reported that they felt distressed because of this language. We believe, as students and peers, that Paxton calling out the celebration and reprimanding Pride Week will only lead to more insecurity and feelings of shame regarding gender and sexual identity, which will only lead to destroying progress in creating a safe space for LGBTQ+ students and their comfort with coming out.

Bowie’s Pride Week consisted of many events celebrating LGBTQ+ students and staff. Beginning with an open microphone poetry slam, students were given the chance to share what pride means to them on a stage in front of others. In addition, different colors were worn throughout the week to celebrate different aspects of pride, FIT sessions were held to celebrate pride, and at the end of the week, the staff took a rainbow-colored photo to celebrate Pride Week. 

Nowhere in those celebrations was sex education taught, as sex education is not taught in Texas schools unless it’s preaching abstinence as the only option to follow, as the Texas Board of Education rejected sex education textbooks and teaching for middle schoolers as of November 2021.

We acknowledge the parental concerns with teaching sex education early, as Texas does have restrictions on it. Regardless on your stance on LGBTQ+ sex education, or sex education in general, it is an undeniable fact that AISD Pride Week celebrations did not teach any form of sex education. The purpose of the celebration was to promote love and respect for all LGBTQ+ students and staff, creating a safe environment for them to feel welcomed.

We dismiss Paxton’s claims against AISD Pride Week, and stands with the activities of the week to celebrate LGBTQ+ students in order to educate everyone on their importance and their hardships, gaining empathy and respect for these peers. Every student deserves to feel safe and welcomed at their school.