( Austin, TX — June 6, 2017 ) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott today announced he would be calling the Texas legislature into special session July 18 to complete unfinished business on the state budget. Inexplicably, among 18 other measures, Gov. Abbott also announced he would be including on the agenda for the special session reconsideration of misguided legislation driven by baseless fearmongering about transgender schoolchildren simply using the bathroom that matches who they are. Anti-LGBT legislation along these lines has been a key focus of Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who has sharply criticized the legislature's inaction on several discriminatory bills. Jennifer C. Pizer, Senior Counsel and Director of Law and Policy, Lambda Legal, issued the following statement:
"It was certainly widely expected that Gov. Abbott would call a special session: There are many items that Texas legislators did not act on, perhaps because they were distracted by the numerous, cruel efforts to enshrine anti-LGBT discrimination into law. There is enough actual business Texas legislators need to take care of without pandering to Lt. Gov. Patrick and his determination to demonize transgender kids. That's not just wrong and abusive: it's also begging to be sued.
"Let's be clear: the Legislature did find the time to pass HB 3859, a discriminatory bill that would allow many child placement agencies in the state foster care system — including agencies receiving state and federal funding — to prioritize their religious beliefs above the needs of children and to operate in a manner explicitly counter to professional standards. That bill is now before Gov. Abbott, and we call on him again to veto it.
"We ask the Texas Legislature not to compound the error with this unwarranted solution in search of a problem driven by Lt. Gov. Patrick's mistaken, discriminatory belief that transgender schoolchildren pose some kind of danger to others. Dozens of business leaders and sports organizations have called on legislators not to enact anti-LGBT legislation, pointing to the experience of North Carolina as a cautionary tale. And, as we said before, if the legislature does force discrimination targeting transgender schoolchildren into Texas law, you can bet that Lambda Legal will be on the case before the next school bell rings."
Lambda Legal stands ready to help transgender youth who experience discrimination in school, foster care or anywhere else, and asks them or their parents or other supportive adults to call our Help Desk at 212.809.8585 or to contact us through this link: www.lambdalegal.org/trans-students .