A Texas child welfare agency removed a page linking to a suicide hotline for LGBTQ youth hours after complaints from a Republican candidate, The Houston Chronicle reports.
In August, Don Huffines, one of the Republican primary challengers running against Gov. Greg Abbott, accused the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services of “promoting transgender sexual policies to Texas youth” under a section of its website called “Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation.”
“These are not Texas values, these are not Republican Party values, but these are obviously Greg Abbott’s values,” he complained in a video published to Twitter.
It’s “offensive” to see Abbott “use our tax dollars to advocate for transgender ideology,” he wrote. “This must end.”
The agency removed the page, which linked to a suicide hotline number and other resources for LGBTQ youth, hours later.
Abbott admin pushed for removal:
The agency removed the entire page for one of its divisions, the Texas Youth Connection, which provides a variety of resources.
“The Texas Youth Connection website has been temporarily disabled for a comprehensive review of its content. This is being done to ensure that its information, resources, and referrals are current,” the page now says.
Emails obtained by the Chronicle show that the Abbott administration pushed to remove it.
“FYI. This is starting to blow up on Twitter,” Marissa Gonzales, the communications director for Family and Protective Services, said in an email to department spokesman Patrick Crimmins with a link to Huffines’ video.
“Darrell — please note we may need to take that page down, or somehow revise content,” Crimmins wrote to Darrell Azar, the agency’s web director.
Azar said the program has posted “content related to LGBTQ for as long as I can remember” and that all content had been approved by the agency’s director for family and youth services.
Huffines claims credit:
“We aren’t surprised that state employees who are loyal to Greg Abbott had to scramble after we called their perverse actions out,” Huffines told the Chronicle. “I promised Texans I would get rid of that website and I kept that promise.”
LGBTQ advocates slammed the state’s actions.
“The state is responsible for these kids’ lives, yet it intentionally removed a way for them to find help when they need it the most,” Ricardo Martinez, chief executive of the LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Texas, told the Chronicle. “This action is unconscionable, and it reminds us that political aspirations are part of every attack on LGBTQ+ kids in Texas, including the fabricated debates and dozens of anti-transgender bills targeting them this year. These precious kids deserve so much better than the way this state is treating them.”