Story at a glance
- More than 50 openly LGBTQ+ candidates are running for public office in Texas this year, nearly double the amount in 2020, when 28 openly LGBTQ+ candidates were on the ballot.
- Currently, there are 13 openly LGBTQ+ elected officials in Texas, six of whom serve in the state legislature. With 20 LGBTQ+ people running for House and Senate seats this cycle, representation could more than double.
- The increase comes at a pivotal moment for LGBTQ+ rights in Texas, as state legislators and the governor continue to call gender-affirming care for transgender youth “child abuse.”
LGBTQ+ representation in the Texas state legislature could double this year, the LGBTQ Victory Fund said Monday, with more openly LGBTQ+ candidates running for public office in the Lone Star state than ever before. Voting in Texas will draw to a close on Tuesday, marking the end to the first primary of the 2022 election cycle.
Fifty-four openly LGBTQ+ candidates are running for public office in Texas this year, according to the Victory Fund, nearly double the amount in 2020, when 28 openly LGBTQ+ people ran.
The increase comes as more than 200 anti-LGBTQ+ bills are being considered in state legislatures nationwide. Just last week, in Texas, Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) in an opinion wrote that certain types of gender-affirming care for transgender youth, including hormone therapy, puberty blockers and surgeries, amounted to “abuse” under Texas law.
Days later, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) ordered state agencies to investigate reports of gender-affirming care as child abuse, warning that “criminal penalties” would be dolled out to parties who fail to report.
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Some district attorneys in Texas have already said they will not prosecute families whose children have received gender-affirming treatment, and in a letter called Paxton’s interpretation of the law “un-American.” Both Paxton’s and Abbott’s comments have been condemned by the White House.
Victory Fund President and CEO Annise Parker — formerly the mayor of Houston — on Monday said Tuesday’s election was pivotal in protecting and advancing LGBTQ+ rights in Texas.
“Tomorrow, our basic human rights are on the ballot. We have a responsibility to make our voices heard,” she said in a statement. “The historic number of out LGBTQ candidates running is not just a symbol of hope for Texas’ LGBTQ community, it is a deafening rebuke to Governor Abbott and legislators bent on silencing us.”
“I am deeply concerned about the onslaught of attacks on LGBTQ people, and especially trans people, here in Texas,” Parker added. “However, I remain optimistic and inspired by the qualified out LGBTQ candidates running to represent our community and stand up against this hate.”
Currently, there are just 31 openly LGBTQ+ elected officials in Texas, six of whom serve in the Texas state legislature. With 20 out LGBTQ+ candidates running for state House and Senate seats this year, LGBTQ+ representation could potentially more than double.
But even with a diverse set of candidates, diverse voters in Texas may struggle to show up to the polls under the state’s restrictive new voting law, which bans drive-through and 24-hour voting, limits drop boxes and adds new identification requirements to absentee ballots.
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