Texas laws targeting LGBTQ youth highlight their vulnerability

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Republican leaders are waging a war on LGBTQ youth in Texas.

News recently broke that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, the agency that oversees the state’s foster care system, had removed two web pages providing resources to LGBTQ youth, including a suicide prevention hotline. .

Days later, Texas House brought forward HB 25, which would ban transgender youth from participating in school sports teams that match their gender identity. It is now on Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk and is slated to become law.

Advocates have stressed the importance of linking these recent attacks on LGBTQ youth to Senate Bill 8, Texas’ recent law that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

Both HB 25 and SB 8 deny the ability of individuals to control their bodies and their lives. As advocates have argued, SB 8 places a particular burden on transgender men and non-binary pregnant people who already face significant barriers to obtaining reproductive care.

It’s also important to consider the recent attacks on LGBTQ youth in light of allegations of rampant abuse in Texas juvenile prisons.

The US Department of Justice has announced that it is investigating allegations of sexual and physical abuse in five Texas juvenile prisons in response to a complaint filed by Texas advocacy groups more than a year ago. The complaint accuses prison officers and staff of forcing juvenile prisoners to have sex, encouraging them to fight with each other and using excessive force and chemical sprays to subdue them.

The complaint also draws attention to inadequate mental health care in prisons and high rates of attempted suicides.

Abuse in Texas juvenile prisons may seem disconnected from political attacks on LGBTQ youth, but it reflects the vulnerability of this population in Texas, as well as heads of state’s utter disregard for their well-being and survival. Experts estimate that nationally 13-15% of young people who come into contact with the juvenile justice system are LGB or gender non-conforming, although they represent only 5-7% of the population. overall.

About 300,000 LGBTQ youth are arrested or detained each year, and over 60% of them are black or Latino. Studies have shown that in correctional facilities, LGBTQ youth experience disproportionate isolation, punishment, neglect and violence.

Together, the ban on anti-trans sports, the ban on abortion, the continued abuse of incarcerated youth, and the state government’s withdrawal of LGBTQ suicide prevention resources reveal the tremendous level of violence at which gay and transgender youth face in this state.

By trying to legislate which sports teams young people can join, lawmakers are encouraging discrimination and bullying against young Texans while denying them access to vital resources and standing up when abused in the community. state juvenile justice institutions.

Erika Slaymaker, University of Texas at Austin

But in the midst of it all, young people are leading the battle against this hate campaign. Despite the more than 75 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced by lawmakers since January, many of which have targeted transgender youth, transgender, non-binary and intersex youth have repeatedly shown up on the Texas Capitol.

They resisted the cruelty of the legislature and instead offered a different view of the state of Texas, which values ​​the LGBTQ community. These young people are supported by a coalition of activists from Equality Texas, the Transgender Education Network of Texas, the ACLU of Texas, the Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal and the Texas Freedom Network who have persisted in fighting the relentless attacks. of some legislators.

Texas lawmakers have not listened. Instead, they passed another bill restricting Texans’ ability to live fully. After sending HB 25 to the governor, Republican lawmakers rushed to complete the redistribution process in a blatant attempt to deprive voters of color of the right to vote and strengthen their grip on state government.

If the courts allow these new cards, the recent attacks on LGBTQ youth in Texas could be just the beginning.

Lauren Gutterman is Associate Professor of American Studies and Erika Slaymaker is a PhD candidate in Sociology, both at the University of Texas at Austin.


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