Over the Weekend, Texas Lawmakers Advanced Discriminatory Measures Targeting LGBT Youth

By Adam Polaski • May 22, 2017 • 10:12 am
Members of the Texas Senate have advanced HB 3859, sweeping legislation that allows taxpayer-funded adoption agencies and foster services to legally discriminate against LGBT people and others, to Governor Greg Abbott for his signature. Under the legislation, same-sex couples, LGBT people, single parents, religious minorities and others looking to adopt or serve as a foster parent could be turned away from an agency simply because of who they are. The bill also puts the safety and well-being of the approximately 22,000 children in the state’s foster system at risk: it allows parents to cite religious beliefs in denying children needed care or services, or in exposing them to dangerous situations such as the widely rejected practice of conversion therapy.

Meanwhile, the Texas House last night passed SB 2078 – a bill related to emergency operations plans for school districts – with an amendment regulating use of restrooms and changing facilities in public schools based on biological sex. This amendment stands to isolate and stigmatize transgender youth in their school communities, and its passage comes after Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick  threatened to block other urgently pending bills from advancing unless lawmakers agreed to pass some version of SB 6. That bill, which stalled in the House earlier this spring, was Patrick’s attempt to ban transgender people from using restrooms in public schools, universities, and government facilities.

Kasey Suffredini, Freedom for All Americans’ Acting CEO & President of Strategy, said this week:

“There is just chaos in Texas right now, and rather than focusing on initiatives that can improve Texas communities and the lives of hardworking families, lawmakers are exhausting themselves by exploring new ways to make life more challenging and even dangerous for LGBT people. We urge Governor Abbott to take a deep breath before acting, and think about the real people this bill will hurt. It will devastate families and explicitly expose kids to harmful practices like conversion therapy. Signing HB 3859 would be an unconscionable act of cruelty.”

HB 3859 would allow foster parents to force children in their care to go through conversion therapy – a dangerous and disproven practice that was long ago rejected by virtually all major medical organizations. Republican governors in two states – Nevada and New Mexico – signed laws banning conversion therapy for minors just within the last few weeks. Connecticut also barred the practice earlier this month.

The Texas Legislature is scheduled to remain in session through May 29. In addition to the anti-LGBT adoption and anti-transgender legislation, lawmakers also are considering about two dozen other proposals that stand to undermine the dignity and legal equality of LGBT people. Those proposals include SB 522, which would allow county clerks and municipal judges to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples; SB 2095, which would ban transgender youth from participating in scholastic sports; and HB 2561, which would allow pharmacists to refuse to refill prescriptions – including for transgender people, women, and LGBT people living with HIV/AIDS – based on religious beliefs.

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