By William Melhado and Alex Nguyen
On March 6, 2023 Updated on April 26, 2023
Texas lawmakers this year are debating whether to block transgender kids’ access to transition-related health care, classify businesses that host drag shows as sexually oriented establishments and limit public school lessons on sexuality and gender identity.
Texas lawmakers this year are considering several bills that could bring major changes to the lives of gay and transgender Texans. Republicans have filed bills that would restrict when sexuality and gender identity are taught in schools, where people can perform in drag and what kind of health care is available to transgender children.
Children and young adults in particular are a focus of the legislation. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick made it a Senate priority to pass measures that pertain to classroom instruction about LGBTQ people, the college sports teams transgender students can join and medical treatments that can be provided to transgender youth. Gov. Greg Abbott has vowed to ban schools’ “woke agendas.” By late April, the Senate had already passed several of the bills. They now sit in the House, where they face their first — and perhaps only — uncertainty before reaching the governor’s desk.
LGBTQ activists and many Democratic lawmakers have been waging a monthslong fight against the bills. Many say the proposed measures amount to attempts to minimize queer expression and restrict people’s rights. One such group, Equality Texas, has identified more than 90 “bad bills” filed so far this session, already more than total identified by the group in 2021 during a full session and three special sessions.
Even if only a few of them pass, the damage will be substantial, they say. According to a January report from the Trevor Project, a national LGBTQ youth suicide-prevention organization, 71% of LGBTQ youth said debates over bills affecting how they live negatively impact their mental health — and 86% of transgender youth reported negative mental health repercussions from such legislation.
“Texas has become one of the most dangerous and hostile places for transgender youth and transgender people and their families in America,” Andrea Segovia, senior field and policy adviser of the Transgender Education Network of Texas, told reporters in February.
The clash comes at a time when 72% of Texans support anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people, according to a 2021 survey from the Public Religion Research Institute.
This piece was republished from the Texas Tribune.