Woman holds a black sign that says Rest in Love. Black Trans Lives Matter.
Woman holds sign in solidarity for Black trans lives. Credit: Ted Eytan/Creative Commons

Texas lawmakers have proposed the most anti-LGBTQ bills in the nation.

Fifty-seven bills have been filed by Texas this year alone, and more than two dozen of the Texas bills are sponsored by Houston-area representatives.

Children and young adults are the main focus on these bills. State lawmakers are considering several bills that could change the lives of Texas’ LGBTQ communities, which include the restrictions on how gender and sexual identity is taught in school, the kind of health care transgender children can receive and where people can perform in drag.

Three such bills that have passed so far.

TX SB14: Restricts transgender youth and adults from access to gender-affirming care

TX SB15: Blocks transgender athletes at collegiate levels from playing on teams that match their gender identity

TX SB162: Requires inclusion of an individual’s sex on a certificate and disallows change of sex on the birth certificate of certain minors.

Advocates are concerned that the anti-trans legislation will do more harm than good for young Texans, especially those who live at the intersection of being Black and LGBTQ.

According to a report for The Center for America Progress, the legal discrimination, lack of family recognition and hostile education environments impact LGBTQ people of color in several ways, including:

  • How discrimination impacts their financial well-being, resulting in lower income and making it harder to save for the future and to cover the high costs of basic necessities including healthcare, insurance and education.
  • Upon entering the education system, LGTBQ POC experience harassment, bullying and violence making it more difficult to obtain an affordable quality education safely.

“These laws will not only exacerbate problems in our education system, but the school-to-prison pipelines, as well. Not only is there an attack on having basic and inclusive US history presented to them in class, these lawmakers are adding ‘Don’t Say Gay’ laws, keeping LGBTQ youth from talking about aspects of their identity,” said Ash Hall, policy and advocacy strategist at ACLU Texas. “If these youth are looking for an adult to talk to, they couldn’t. Their teachers aren’t going to be able to provide that safe space anymore, and not every household is the safest to come out.”

Hall also says that with these bill restrictions, it will increase the likelihood of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety in unsafe school environments which will then lead to students leaving or being removed from school settings (often for minor offenses) and into the juvenile criminal justice system.

Verniss McFarland III is the founder of The Mahogany Project, an organization dedicated to fighting the social isolation, stigma and acts of injustice against LGBTQ+ communities of color. They said that in order for change to happen, the people need to realize their power.

“Right now, even in our push for the mayoral seat, we are making sure we are educating our community, talking to politicians, lobbying and getting the funds to support trans communities,” McFarland said. “This is the prime opportunity for us to mobilize, build human power and human capital. Volunteer and donate because this is a very vulnerable time for Black trans communities.”

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Laura OnyenehoEducation Reporter

I cover Houston's education system as it relates to the Black community for the Defender as a Report for America corps member. I'm a multimedia journalist and have reported on social, cultural, lifestyle,...