In His Latest Attack on LGBTQ+ Texans, Gov. Abbott Calls for an “End” to Transgender Teachers  

In the latest of a long series of alarming attacks on educators, Gov. Greg Abbott has set his sights on transgender educators. During his keynote speech at the Young Conservatives of Texas convention this past weekend, Abbott jeopardized the livelihoods of dedicated professionals and undermined the principles of inclusivity that should form the foundation of our public education system.  

In his remarks, Abbott suggested investigating and potentially revoking the licenses of teachers who are transgender or gender-nonconforming or who discuss gender identity in classrooms:  

“Up the street from where we are right now is Lewisville, Texas. In Lewisville, Texas, in the high school, recently, as in just a month ago, they had a high school teacher who was a man who would go to school dressed as a woman in a dress, high heels, and makeup. Now, what do you think is going through the mind of the students that’s in that classroom? Are they focusing on the subject that this person is trying to teach? I don’t know. What I do know are these two things. One is this person, a man, dressing as a woman, in a public high school in the state of Texas, he’s trying to normalize the concept that this type of behavior is okay. This type of behavior is not okay. And this is the type of behavior that we want to make sure we end in the state of Texas.” 

Abbott’s comments come just weeks after a male-identifying teacher at Hebron High School in Lewisville ISD was placed on administrative leave after wearing a pink dress on a school dress-up day, despite the district later confirming that “there are no specific policies related to staff attire during dress up days. Weeks after being put on leave by the district, the teacher resigned, stating in his resignation announcement:  

“My focus is and has always been our students, and I still believe in the important work being done at Hebron and in Lewisville ISD every day. It is because of my love for Hebron and our students that I have decided not to return. I know that might sound strange, but any time adult disagreements overshadow our students’ learning and well-being, it is time to step away.” 

Abbott’s comments are more significant than inflammatory rhetoric. As previously covered in the Hotline, an analysis of data from the Texas Department of Public Safety (TXDPS) shows a sharp increase in hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people in Texas, and a recent analysis by the Washington Post shows that crimes against LGBTQ+ people have surged in states where anti-LGBTQ+ legislation has passed. 

State leaders, including Abbott, have repeatedly targeted the transgender community with legislation in recent years, including Senate Bill 6 (85-R), which would have banned trans Texans from using the bathrooms in public schools, government buildings and public universities that correspond to their gender identity. These attacks have resulted in transgender educators expressing that they don’t feel safe or welcome in Texas schools. 

Abbott’s comments over the weekend allude to possible legislative action intended to bar transgender educators from working on public school campuses. However, legislation to this end would violate federal employment protections guaranteed by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In its 2020 decision in the case Bostock v. Clayton County, the Supreme Court of the United States found that an employer who fires an individual based on their sexual orientation or gender identity would be in direct violation of federal law. 

By seeking to censor discussions around gender identity, Abbott seems to intend on depriving students of the opportunity to engage in critical dialogue and learn about the diverse experiences of their peers. 

As a recent article from the Rolling Stone covering the remarks notes, Abbott’s words have sparked outrage and resistance from educators, advocacy groups, and civil rights organizations, including Texas AFT, who have been at the forefront of this fight, condemning Abbott’s actions and calling for greater protections for transgender educators and students. 

In response to Abbott’s comments, Zeph Capo, president of Texas AFT, issued the following statement:

“It hasn’t been talked about nearly enough, but it’s no coincidence that the governor who wants to send taxpayer money to private schools that discriminate against LGBTQ+ students would also want to violate the constitutional rights of LGBTQ+ educators. The fight to privatize and the fight to stigmatize are one and the same. The only question is how far we as Texans are willing to let this governor and his big-money donors degrade our teachers, persecute our LGBTQ+ neighbors, and destabilize the fabric of our lives.” 

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