AUSTIN (Nexstar) — As the LGBTQ+ community reels from the Saturday attack on their own in Colorado Springs, Texas advocates say a slew of “anti-LGBTQ” bills already filed for the upcoming legislative session are further harming their community.
Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas, said 21 bills directed toward the LGBTQ community have been filed since state legislators were able to start filing bills for the upcoming session on Nov. 14.
“There doesn’t seem to be a story horrific enough, a statistic awful enough or personal story that’s moving or touching enough for them to react and see our humanity,” he said. “It really will take every single one of us taking tangible action to push back against this.”
Texas has often been at the forefront of the national conversation around transgender rights. In late February, Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton called gender-transitioning or affirming procedures “child abuse,” calling on the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate parents who allow their children to transition.
While that effort has been blocked in court, state Republicans have already filed bills seeking to codify this effort. House Bill 42 by Rep. Bryan Slaton, R-Royse City, would change Texas law to define administering, supplying, consenting to or assisting in the administration of gender-affirming care as “child abuse,” which could put parents and physicians behind bars.
Another bill would ban public schools from teaching any topics on gender identity or sexual orientation from kindergarten through fifth grade, or “in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.” Similar legislation, called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by opponents, passed in Florida. Republican lawmakers said it gives parents control over what their children are taught and when.
Rep. Jared Patterson, R-Frisco, authored a bill that would define puberty-blocking drugs or gender reassignment as “child abuse.” Another one of his introduced bills would legally define establishments that offer drag shows as a “sexually oriented business,” therefore banning minors from entering the premises.
Patterson was unable to meet our interview request Wednesday due to travel, but sent us written statements.
“My constituents have a hard time believing anyone would allow this to happen to children even though it takes place in our communities. Whether it’s the sexually explicit books we’re fighting in schools, child gender modification, or obscene drag shows labeled as family-friendly, it’s almost unbelievable that some in society have moved in this direction,” Patterson said.
Martinez said he would be “naive” not to wonder whether something like what happened in Colorado Springs could happen in Texas. The motive in the Colorado shooting is still under investigation, but authorities said the gunman faces possible murder and hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at the gay nightclub, “Club Q.”
“There’s a danger and fear mongering about the lives of LGBTQ people dehumanizing folks. And expecting there to be no effect, I think is careless,” he said. “They all contribute to this hostile landscape that has been developed here, and keeping us less safe.”
Nexstar asked Patterson to respond to criticism from advocacy groups that his legislation “harbors hatred and violence toward their community.”
“I have no comment on the evil events in CO other than to offer my condolences to the victims and their families because it is completely unrelated to our work in Texas,” he said in a written statement.
Last session, Martinez said there were 76 bills his group deemed as “anti-LGBTQ.” Only one of them passed, a bill requiring transgender youth to participate on school sport teams that align with their sex assigned at birth.