Texas lawmakers ask far-right,-anti-trans attorney general to review schools’ trans policies

Ken Paxton speaks in front of Congress.

Texas’ attorney general Ken Paxton, who called trans people “sexual propagandists”, has been asked to review the trans policies of schools across the state.

Hard-line Republican Paxton was asked by conservative lawmakers to review the Texas Association of School Boards’ (TASB) inclusive guidance on trans students after claims that it would somehow “endanger children”.

The Texas Freedom Caucus – a highly conservative legal group that aims to “amplify the voices of liberty-minded, conservative Texans” – wrote to Paxton on 17 January urging him to make an “immediate review of this matter”.

The school board’s guidelines state that students have a right to identify as a gender they were not assigned to at birth, and that school officials must take relevant actions to help protect and facilitate that right.

This includes protective methods if their identity is a secret and amendments to school records to reflect any relevant changes to gender markers or pronouns.

“School districts and their employees should exercise caution in the release of information about a transgender student and seek guidance from the district’s attorney when in doubt,” the guidance reads.

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Ken Paxton speaking during an address outside of US Congress.
Ken Paxton has been criticised for his right-wing views in the past. (Getty)

In response, and seemingly in an attempt to compare trans people to sexual predators, the Texas Freedom Caucus claimed that such legal guidance is “dangerous for girls”.

The group claimed: “The guidance allows school districts to subvert parental rights by granting discretion to educators on whether to report a child’s gender dysphoria.”

“Most ominously, TASB advises districts to refer to a child by their preferred pronouns and gender identity at school, while referring to the child by their legal name in correspondence with parents.”

Parental rights are often used as a basis to push anti-trans legislation which would remove rights from trans people.

And right-wing lawmakers typically use the argument that parents have a right to know about decisions their child is making.

But, as many human rights organisations have pointed out, students may feel the need to hide their gender identity due to safety issues at home or because of transphobic parents or guardians.

Responding to similar opinions expressed by Republican Arizona senator, John Kavanaugh, Human Rights Campaign Arizona director, Bridget Sharpe, said: “A student has a right to express their gender identity.

“They have a right to express that to whoever they wish, and it’s up to them who they trust and who they feel safe around.”

Ken Paxton has routinely expressed anti-LGBTQ+ views

Meanwhile, Ken Paxton is notorious for his anti-LGBTQ+ views.

The Texan attorney general said he was “willing and able” to make gay sex illegal in a June 2022 statement following the overturning of Roe v Wade.

He said during a NewsNation interview that he would be more than happy to “take a look at” and defend a law that “once again outlawed sodomy”.

Additionally, in March 2022, he declared a school’s Pride event “illegal” while claiming staff members were violating laws against teaching “human sexuality” without parental consent.

In an open letter, he wrote that the district was overstepping its bounds by hosting a week-long Pride celebration.

“By hosting ‘Pride Week’, your district has, at best, undertaken a week-long instructional effort in human sexuality without parental consent,” Paxton wrote. 

“Or, worse, your district is cynically pushing a week-long indoctrination of your students that not only fails to obtain parental consent but subtly cuts parents out of the loop. Either way, you are breaking state law.”

It’s for these and various other anti-LGBTQ+ remarks that his December 2022 request for the personal details of all trans people in Texas was met with such concern.

Paxton ordered the state Department of Public Safety (DPS) to compile a list of individuals who had changed their gender on department records in the last two years.

His request was met with bewilderment by both LGBTQ+ activists and the department itself, which said that the data set “neither exists nor could be accurately produced”.

Considering his disregard for the feelings and rights of trans people – including various posts deliberately misgendering US assistant secretary Dr Rachel Levine on social media – activists said that the request was “another attempt to target the LGBTQ+ community and come after young people in Texas.”

Shortly after, a similar attempt was made by governor Ron DeSantis, who demanded state universities share the personal details of trans students.

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