Anti-LGBTQ attacks in Texas need to stop


Asher Hagan

If the people of Texas truly wanted this bill to be passed, if they truly wanted to “protect the children,” they would be there testifying in favor of HB 1686, but they weren’t there.

Asher Hagan, Commentary Editor

I did not learn about gay people in a classroom. The first time I saw a gay flag was when I was seven years old. It belonged to my neighbors, my neighbors who were two men. I did not know what the flag was, just that it was pretty and it was not until years later that I even realized my neighbors were queer. Now, I have that flag on my wall. I identify with it and it feels like my state wants to take it away from me.

Texas is a historically conservative, Republican state as proven by the fact that Texas has not voted Democrat in a presidential election since 1976. Over their time in power, the Republican party has slowly devolved into hateful rhetoric and a corrupt version of the “American way.” 

It is hard to pin down when the higher powers in the GOP started to turn against every minority under the sun, but for many people it can be traced back to the election of 2016 with Donald Trump. Since this election, there have been movements such as Black Lives Matter, an increase in demands for gun control, and more bills than ever restricting LGBT individuals.

According to PBS, as of mid-March over 400 anti-LGBT bills have been proposed in America in the year 2023 alone, and, according to the Human Rights Campaign, Texas is one of the states leading this sudden push for anti-LGBT legislation.

This year Texas lawmakers have made a major push for things such as limiting gender-affirming health care as well as limiting the teaching of LGBT subjects in both public and charter schools. These bills are overtly harmful and incredibly destructive. They will quite literally kill children and will absolutely not stop the rising number of people in younger generations that identify as LGBT. Not to mention that the worst part of these bills is the fact that these lawmakers don’t actually care about the people they are affecting.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, despite bills like these becoming more common, of the 315 anti-LGBT bills proposed in 2022, only 9% of them became law. So now the question: if so many of these bills aren’t becoming law then why have them? It’s simple: to make a statement. Many lawmakers don’t care if these bills become law because they don’t actually care about the people and/or children these bills are affecting. They care about the fact that people on the far right can rally behind these ideals. It is not about legislature, it is about proclaiming your hatred for a group of people. 

Asher Hagan

There are six main bills in both the House and the Senate in Texas that prohibit those under 18 from receiving gender-affirming healthcare such as hormones, surgeries, and puberty blockers. One of these bills is Texas House Bill 1686, which, as of March 27, has passed in the Texas House of Representatives. The bill had public testimony on March 24 and, according to an estimate from the Texas Tribune, there were more than 2,800 people signed up to testify in regards to this bill. Of the 2,800 people just under 100 of them were there to actually support the bill’s potential passing. The testimony was abruptly cut off before many people got to speak in the House.

If the people of Texas truly wanted this bill to be passed, if they truly wanted to “protect the children,” they would be there testifying in favor of HB 1686, but they weren’t there. Instead, parents, doctors, and young children testified for their right to be who they are in the state of Texas. Banning transgender healthcare can have massive effects on a child’s mental health. According to the Trevor Project, suicide is the leading cause of death among people 10-24 and LGBT youth are four times as at risk of committing suicide then their peers. 

Many Republican lawmakers have taken this to say that because of the higher suicide rates among trans and LGBT youth, parents should not encourage their children to transition nor should children be allowed to transition for fear of decreased mental health. However, in 2021, the American Medical Association stated that taking gender-affirming care away from people is what leads to decreased mental health. If these lawmakers in Texas wanted to actually do what is best for children, then they would let gender-affirming care be available instead of pushing trans children out of Texas then advocating for parental choice.

Parental choice is one of the big pushes from Governor Greg Abbott as of late. It is a push for it to be the parent’s decision as far as where their child goes to school, disregarding the cost of tuition or zoning district. I find it very ironic that Abbott thinks that parents should have a say in where their children go to school and what they learn but doesn’t think that parents should have the right to decide what is best for their children medically. Even if you are not transgender or affected by these restrictions, some proposed Texas bills still may affect you.

Currently in Texas there are three main bills that talk about restricting the education of LGBT topics. Education and the queer community has been a particular soft spot for conservative lawmakers in recent years. Even outside of Texas, particularly in states such as Florida, mentions of the LGBT community have been removed from many curricula with things such as “Don’t Say Gay” bills. Similar bills have been introduced to Texas legislatures. Proposals like House Bills 1155 and 1541 would ban the teaching of LGBT subjects and people from Kindergarten to eighth grade. Both have very similar wording to that of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill which passed last year. 

Arguably the most terrifying of these kinds of bills is Texas Senate Bill 8, a 27-page bill that would set up savings accounts for every student in the state of Texas and boost parental choice in schools. 

This bill would not only allow students to go to schools with tuitions more easily but also, according to one singular paragraph in the document, ban the teaching of LGBT subjects from kindergarten to 12th grade. This is scary to me because it is simply slipped into this document with one, four-line paragraph and is the most restrictive of Texas’ attempts to limit queer education.

Overall, this should not be happening. That’s the simple truth. There are so many other things going on in the world that the government, both federal and state, should be concerned with. They should be concerned about issues like deadly mass shootings instead of worrying about children’s sex organs. Lawmakers can’t hide behind the pretense of “it’s all for the children’’ then be silent when children lose their lives to gun violence. These are children’s lives, not political statements. I can only hope that lawmakers start to realize the people they are actually affecting and focus on more important things.