And Texas AFT will fight any attempt to prosecute educators
On Tuesday, Governor Greg Abbott wrote a letter that once again put educators and children in his crosshairs as he directed the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to begin child-abuse investigations on reports of transgender kids receiving gender-affirming medical care. This action impacts medical professionals and educators across Texas as Abbott states: “Texas law imposes reporting requirements upon all licensed professionals […] including doctors, nurses, and teachers and provides criminal penalties for failure to report such child abuse.” Notably, Abbott cc’d Education Commissioner Mike Morath.
“It’s reprehensible, the idea that school employees would be prosecuted for not reporting what is a personal healthcare decision by families and their kids,” said Texas AFT President Zeph Capo. “We’re not going to report, and we’re going to fight any attempts to prosecute teachers. This is a pathetic political move by a governor whose primary political pursuits of late have been targeting teachers with threats.”
Greg Abbott’s letter references a non-binding opinion issued by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Monday claiming that certain gender-affirming healthcare services should be considered child abuse and thus are illegal. Gender-affirming care includes treatments like puberty blockers and hormone therapy, among other specific medical procedures he outlined to Rep. Matt Krause, chair of the House General Committee on Investigations. Krause was the instigator in another witch hunt—his demands for investigations into books in school libraries.
Dozens of Texas House representatives from several caucuses blasted Abbott and Paxton stating in a release: “Governor Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxtonʼs recent attacks on vulnerable children are cruel, unconstitutional, and purely political. Neither the letter nor the opinion issued are legally binding.”
“Medical, mental health, and child-development professionals all recognize that gender-affirming care is beneficial to the development and well-being of kids who need it,” Capo said. “It’s ludicrous that Paxton thinks his role is to declare an absurd definition of child abuse so that he can score political points with his base. These attacks from the governor and the attorney general are nothing more than an attempt to erase the transgender community in Texas. As educators, as community members, we cannot stand for it.”
Groups like the American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, and American Academy of Pediatrics have announced their support for providing age-appropriate, individualized care for children experiencing gender dysphoria. This medical care is evidence-based and has proven effectiveness.
Travis and Harris County attorneys and district attorneys have responded to these latest overreaching directions targeting transgender youth, saying they would not prosecute any cases based on new guidance from Abbott and Paxton.
According to data published by the Williams Institute at UCLA, about 14,000 Texas adolescents aged 13 to 17 identify as transgender. Republican lawmakers failed in 2021 to change state law to ban certain medical treatments and procedures for kids experiencing gender dysphoria. This condition causes discomfort and distress among individuals who identify as a different gender or sex rather than the one assigned at birth. LGBTQIA+ advocacy groups are urging all Texans to stand up against these misguided political maneuvers that not only target the transgender youth, but also the medical experts and educators who support them every day.
If you know someone experiencing emotional distress due to these latest developments, there are resources available for them. The Trevor Project is a nonprofit that works in suicide prevention among the LGBTQIA+ community throughout the United States. Call 1-866-488-7386 and you’ll be connected with a Trevor counselor who is understanding of LGBTQIA+ issues, and your call will remain anonymous.