Anti LGBTQIA+ Laws Face Legal Challenges: Where do these Laws Stand?

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There has been a flurry of legal activity in Texas over the past month as we approached the September 1stenactment date for new laws passed by the Texas Legislature. With a slate of anti-LGBTQIA+ laws set to go into effect, legal advocates from across the state have sought to block these discriminatory laws from harming LGBTQIA+ Texans. 

Below is an update on where six laws currently stand:

-SB 14: The gender affirming healthcare ban: In effect as of 9/1Despite a state judge issuing a temporary injunction last week, the state immediately appealed to the Texas Supreme Court. They then denied a request for emergency relief to stop the law from taking effect. However, the litigation is still ongoing and the court will have to rule on the merits of the law at a later date.

SB 14, a dangerous and heartbreaking bill, virtually ends access to gender affirming healthcare for transgender youth. This type of best-practice and often life-saving healthcare has been endorsed by every major medical association.  Critically, the bill maintains access to many of these treatments for intersex youth or those experiencing certain health conditions. That is how we know this isn’t about the science and is just another attack on transgender youth who are simply trying to live authentically.  

By limiting the autonomy of transgender youth and placing barriers to their medical needs, this bill may have severe consequences, contributing to poor mental health and wellbeing among trans youth. We already know of families of transgender youth that are making plans to leave Texas or searching for options out of state. With this bill, the cruelty is the point. 

-SB 12: The “drag ban” billTemporarily blockedA judge has temporarily blocked the implementation of SB 12 while lawsuits are pending. There will be a full hearing into the merits of this bill at a later date. 

SB 12, also known as the “drag ban bill,” expands the definition of sexually oriented performance. The bill includes vague language that will allow drag, and many other types of performance including Pride celebrations, cheerleaders, and powderpuff football to be targeted if minors are present. Texas already has a public indecency law, but this confusing bill conflates drag and other performance with explicit, sexual content. Those in violation can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. 

As we have seen in Dallas over the past year, vigilantes have targeted LGBTQIA+ spaces to create hostile environments. We fear this bill will give them license to police family-friendly events and create greater hostility and even violence. 

-HB 900: the “book ban” bill: Temporarily blockedA federal judge issued an injunction to stop the law from taking effect pending further litigation. 

Though there were many revisions to HB 900 over the course of the session, this bill creates an overly broad definition of “obscenity” that could be used to remove positive representation of LGBTQIA+ identities from school libraries.  Nearly half of all books that have been challenged nationwide included LGBTQIA+ themes or content. This bill sends the message that LGBTQIA+ youth are not deserving of seeing themselves reflected in educational materials and their identity is somehow shameful. 

-HB 2127: shredding local protections: Ruled unconstitutionalCities in Texas sued to stop the law from taking effect and a Travis County judge ruled on Wednesday that the law violated the Texas Constitution. While the law still goes into effect on 9/1, the ruling is seen as a blow to the effectiveness of the law. 

Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and many other cities in Texas have passed local non-discrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. Texas lacks statewide protections for LGBTQIA+ people so, for many, these are the only legal protections they have to fight back against discrimination. Despite claims by the bill’s author and other groups, HB 2127 may well imperil local housing protections that have been on the books for many years. This bill overrides local control and sends us backwards, not towards, equality under the law.

-SB 15: Expansion of the “trans athlete” ban: In effect as of 9/1.

SB 15 expands the discriminatory “transgender athlete ban,” that was first enacted at the K-12 level in 2021, to the collegiate level. The bill prohibits transgender student athletes from participating in sports competition consistent with their gender identity. This bill perpetuates harmful stereotypes and undermines the rights and dignity of transgender individuals. Denying transgender athletes the opportunity to compete on a level playing field robs them of the chance to experience the benefits of participation in sports, such as personal growth, teamwork, and increased self-esteem. Since the ban first went into effect, we have seen allegations and suspicion among teams in Texas. This solution in search of a problem will only make the situation worse. 

-SB 763: the school chaplain bill: In effect as of 9/1.

In order to be licensed as a school guidance counselor in Texas, you must have a master’s degree and two years of classroom teaching experience. This bill allows districts to hire unlicensed and untrained religious chaplains to take the place of counselors. This bill opens the door to many kinds of harmful situations including the use of disproven counseling or religious evangelization without parental consent.  

As the legal challenges progress, we will keep you updated on the outcome of litigation. Make sure you sign up for Resource Center advocacy alerts to stay in the loop.

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