Governor Greg Abbott announces new "special discrimination session" to target LGBTQ Texans

GLAAD President & CEO: Abbott will have blood on his hands if anti-trans bill is signed into law

Announcement follows 2017 Texas Session, which included numerous bills targeted at marginalized communities, including LGBTQ Texans

NEW YORK – GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, criticized Texas Governor Greg Abbott today for pursuing a dangerous agenda with his announcement for a special session at the Texas State Capitol. This agenda includes passing a so-called anti-trans “bathroom bill” which openly targets and discriminates against transgender Texans for living their lives according to their gender identity. The so-called “bathroom bill” has already received negative attention as some of the nation’s top business CEOs, including Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook, have denounced any sort of discriminatory, anti-trans legislation.

This special session announcement follows what was a “discrimination session” against marginalized communities across the state, including LGBTQ Texans. From shoving through HB 3859 – which allows adoption agencies to use religion as a weapon to deny LGBTQ families the ability to adopt a child – to signing a ban on “sanctuary cities” into law, policy that could potentially harm LGBTQ immigrants, the Texas Capitol has promoted an out-of-touch agenda at the expense of the state’s most vulnerable.

“Governor Greg Abbott is proving everything is bigger in Texas including prioritizing discrimination. If the governor moves forward with this harmful legislation against trans students, LGBTQ people, businesses, and fair-minded Texans will respond in Texas style – Big,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD. “Trans Texans have experienced harassment and threats because of this last session and if any anti-trans bills get signed into law, then Governor Abbott’s legacy will be turning Texas into a state known for harming some its most marginalized people.”

GLAAD has been on the frontlines with local LGBTQ organizations like Equality Texas and the Texas Freedom Network to help stop discriminatory and harmful anti-LGBTQ bills at the Texas Capitol. In April, GLAAD coordinated “Students Against Hate” rallies where college students from many campuses across Texas came together to show their disapproval to the anti-LGBTQ bills that were currently in Austin. Rallies were held in Austin, San Antonio, and Houston.

Further, GLAAD worked with Equality Texas to push for inclusive airtime during a recent town hall debate hosted by a local television affiliate in San Antonio. After it appeared there was not a balance between pro-LGBTQ voices and the opposition, GLAAD called on the local television station to dedicate future coverage to include pro-trans stories for their viewers.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: TIMELINE - The 2017 “Discrimination Session” at the Texas State Capitol  

1.05.17: Lt. Gov Dan Patrick and State Senator Lois Kolkhorst unveil Senate Bill 6, a bill aimed at blocking transgender access to public accommodations in public schools, universities, and government buildings.  

1.15.17: House Speaker Joe Straus issues warning of the economic threat of such a discriminatory bill as SB 6: “We should be very careful about doing something that would make Texas less competitive for investments, jobs, and the highly skilled workforce needed to compete.”

3.06.17: Lt. Gov Patrick recruits anti-LGBTQ hate groups, Vision America and Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council to help push for the passage of SB 6 with the launch of “Operation One Million Voices.”

3.06.17: Rep. Simmons files House Bill 2899, an even harsher bathroom bill that bars transgender people’s access to public accommodations as well as invalidating existing local non-discrimination LGBTQ ordinances in Texas.

3.09.17: WOAI News 4 San Antonio airs a town hall on SB 6; with two members of known anti-LGBTQ hate groups and only one person who identified as LGBTQ, sparking GLAAD to team with Equality Texas and campaign for equal airtime for pro-trans voices.  

3.14.17: The Texas Senate passes SB 6 with a 21-10 vote; during the debate, the Democrats call the bill a solution in search of a problem that would lead to economic fallout.

3.24.17: House Speaker Straus again condemns SB 6, calling the bill “manufactured and unnecessary.” The House never takes up the bill.

4.19.17: Five hours of public testimony heard on HB 2899, with 369 people registering to speak in opposition of the anti-LGBTQ bill. After the testimony, the bill was left pending in committee until the end of the legislative session.

4.25.17: Student Against Hate Rallies held across the state of Texas to speak out against SB 6 and HB 2899 and other anti-LGBTQ legislation. These rallies were organized by GLAAD, the Texas Freedom Network, Equality Texas, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), ACLU of Texas, and the Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT)

5.16.17: Gov. Abbott called the “bathroom bill” must pass piece of legislation and one of his top priorities for the remaining weeks of the legislative session.

5.17.17: Lt. Gov Patrick issues a threat to force a special session over the so-called bathroom bill: “I will ask the governor to call us back again and again and again.”

5.22.17: The Texas House successfully adds an anti-trans amendment to Senate Bill 2078 that would restrict bathroom access to K-12 transgender students in TX public schools.

5.25.17: The Texas Senate refuses to concur with SB 2078 as amended by the house; this disagreement is not addressed before the end of the legislative session.

5.26.17: Lt. Gov Patrick takes five state agency bills hostage in order to force a special session and include SB 6 or HB 2899. One of these, the arcane “sunset” bill, failed to pass before the end of the session.

5.29.17: Regular session of the 85th Legislature adjourns.