AUSTIN (Nexstar) – As the LGBTQ+ community is shaken by Saturday’s attack in Colorado Springs alone, Texas advocates say a series of “anti-LGBTQ” bills already tabled for the upcoming legislative session are hurting their community inflict further damage.
Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas, said 21 bills targeting the LGBTQ community have been tabled since state legislatures were able to begin submitting bills for the upcoming Nov. 14 session.
“There doesn’t seem to be a story horrible enough, a statistic horrible enough, or a personal story moving or touching enough to make us react and see our humanity,” he said. “It’s really going to take each and every one of us to take concrete action to address this.”
Texas has often been at the forefront of the national conversation about transgender rights. In late February, Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton called sex reassignment or confirmation procedures “child abuse” and called on the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate parents who allow their children to transition.
While those efforts have been blocked in court, state Republicans have already introduced bills aimed at codifying those efforts. House Bill 42 by Rep. Bryan Slaton, R-Royse City, would amend Texas law to define administering, providing, consenting to, or assisting in the administration of gender-affirming care as “child abuse” that could land parents and doctors behind bars .
Another bill would ban public schools from teaching gender identity or sexual orientation topics from kindergarten through fifth grade, or “in a manner that is not age- or developmentally appropriate for students according to state standards.” A similar law, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law by opponents, was 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 sex reassignment as “child abuse.” Another of his proposed bills would legally define establishments offering drag shows as a “sexually oriented business” and ban minors from entering the premises.
Patterson was unable to honor our interview request Wednesday due to travel, but sent us written comments.
“My constituents have a hard time believing that anyone would allow this to happen to children when it is taking place in our communities. Whether it’s the sexually explicit books we’re campaigning against in schools, the gender reassignment of children, or obscene drag shows labeled family-friendly, it’s almost unbelievable that some in society have moved in this direction,” he said Patterson.
Martinez said he would be “naive” if he didn’t wonder if something like what happened in Colorado Springs could happen in Texas. The motive for the Colorado shooting is still under investigation, but authorities said the shooter may face murder and hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at club Q gay nightclub.
“There is a danger and fear being fueled about the lives of LGBTQ people that is dehumanizing. And I think it’s negligent to expect there to be no effect,” he said. “They all contribute to this hostile landscape that has developed here and make us less safe.”
Nexstar asked Patterson to respond to advocacy criticism that its legislation “harbors hatred and violence against their community.”
“I have no comment on the evil happenings in CO other than to offer my condolences to the victims and their families as this is unrelated to our work in Texas,” he said in a written statement.
At the last session, Martinez said there were 76 bills his group classified as “anti-LGBTQ.” Only one of them was passed, a law requiring transgender youth to participate in school sports teams that match their birth-assigned gender.