TEXAS, USA — Just over 30 bills targeting LGBTQ+ Texans were introduced in the 2021 legislative session, according to Equality Texas, which tracks anti-LGBTQ+ bills.
But despite legislative defeats, the Republican-controlled legislature could be back and be successful in going after the pride community.
“This legislation is not coming from a challenge in Texas or a problem that they’re trying to solve. It’s a problem they’re trying to create,” Rep. Ann Johnson said.
Johnson, a Democrat, is an openly gay member of the Texas state legislature— a minority in itself.
She has been on the receiving end of defending against anti-LGBTQ+ bills from becoming law in the Lone Star State.
“Many of my Republican colleagues are attacking children and their families purely for political gain. That’s it,” Johnson said.
From proposing legislation to restrict trans youth from playing sports, allowing businesses to refuse services to LGBTQ people, to blocking gender-affirming care, Johnson says lawmakers are playing a dangerous game with lives.
“What we’re seeing with this rhetoric is we’re seeing an increase in violence against our LGBTQ community. We’re also seeing an increase in self-harming of children and so the rhetoric is dangerous,” Johnson said.
In February, Governor Greg Abbott directed the Department of Family and Protective Services to conduct child abuse investigations against parents who utilized gender-affirming care.
“The idea that the governor of the state of Texas would direct DFPS to try to remove children from households that are loving and affirming and supporting those kids and would want to force those kids in to this broken CPS system I think just underscores what we’re seeing isn’t concern for kids at all,” Brad Pritchett, the field director for Equality Texas said.
The Texas Supreme Court later ruled the governor didn’t have the authority to do so, but DFPS could on their own, and they maybe according to a recent lawsuit.
When asked for a comment the agency said, “We do not comment on specific abuse/neglect investigations.”
As for legislative pushes, there could be more in the future.
Representative Bryan Slaton says he will propose a bill banning ‘drag shows in front of kids’.
He didn’t return a request for an interview.