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GLAAD, EQUALITY TEXAS AND TRANSGENDER NETWORK OF TEXAS RESPOND TO AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION OF TEXAS LAWSUIT AGAINST UNCONSTITUTIONAL DRAG BAN
- Last updated: August 3, 2023
“We applaud and stand with the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas in their hard work to ensure fairness and equality for all and that discrimination won’t prevail.” – Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO
“When I last checked, Texas was a free state and we all had the right to determine our own values, and make our own decisions, so long as we weren’t harming others. This fear-mongering about the art of drag is meant to deprive us of our humanity and encourages vigilantism.” – Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas
SB 12, an unconstitutional law that violates our First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, was challenged in court today by the ACLU-TX after it was signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott earlier this year.
(Austin, TX and New York, NY – August 3, 2023) Equality Texas, the largest nonprofit in Texas focused on securing full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people, and GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, are responding in support of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas lawsuit against the state of Texas to block the drag ban law, SB 12, from taking effect.
The lawsuit argues drag and other forms of artistic expression are protected under the First Amendment and would make the passed bill, SB 12, unconstitutional. Details about the lawsuit and quotes from the plaintiffs can be found at this link.
In the last year, drag performances have seen increased protests and significant threats, many in Texas. Equality Texas documented additional targeted events throughout the year, including an armed demonstration and confrontation in San Antonio. Equality Texas has documented over 30 demonstrations against drag performances in the state alone.
Federal judges in Tennessee and Florida have recently struck down those states’ drag bans as unconstitutional, overbroad and vague. A federal judge in Montana has also issued a temporary restraining order against that state’s ban as its constitutionality is challenged.
Statement from Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas:
“With this attack on drag, anti-LGBTQIA+ extremists have demonstrated their determination to dictate their morality through a policy that centers and uplifts their beliefs over all others. When I last checked, Texas was a free state and we all had the right to determine our own values, and make our own decisions, so long as we weren’t harming others. This fear-mongering about the art of drag is meant to deprive us of our humanity and encourages vigilantism. Anti-LGBTQIA+ extremist lawmakers sensationalize drag performers and venues regardless of the threat to our safety to distract from their negligent leadership that is harming our communities. It is no surprise that Texas has reported the highest number of violent threats to drag performers, venues, and attendees in the country.”
Statement from Andrea Segovia (she/her), Senior Field and Policy Advisor of TENT
“The goal of this law is to chip away at our freedoms and eventually erase queer and trans existence from the public sphere. Our community and our art will not be silenced or erased. Our community has fought too long to exist to let a drag ban stop us from challenging gender norms, celebrating our identities, and preserving queer culture. We applaud the tenacity and grit of the suit’s plaintiffs. The plaintiffs of this case demonstrate true Texas values by standing strong for queer and trans rights. We’re supporting them every step along the way.”
Statement from Sarah Kate Ellis, President & CEO of GLAAD:
“The attempt by Texas lawmakers to ban drag is a dark and shameful attempt at pushing away queer art and expression from the public and would have negative effects not just on the LGBTQ community and drag performers, but on countless small businesses across the state. Texas’ regressive legislative policies will not stop our work in ensuring LGBTQ performers and businesses’ constitutional freedom of speech remain protected. We applaud and stand with the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas in their hard work to ensure fairness and equality for all and that discrimination won’t prevail.”
- Texas led the nation this year in a record-breaking year of proposedanti-LGBTQ legislation that would codify discrimination against LGBTQ Texans. For a comprehensive list of the bills introduced and their status, visit https://www.equalitytexas.org/legislature/legislative-bill-tracker-2023/.
- Anti-LGBTQ lawmakers this year pushed forward bans on healthcare for transgender youth, bans on inclusive education curricula that include LGBTQ issues and history, increased restrictions on transgender students participating in school sports, and bans on performances by drag artists, among other bills. For a comprehensive description of all LGBTQ-related bills pending in various states, visithttps://www.equalityfederation.org/state-legislation.
- At the same time, approximately 140 pro-LGBTQ bills were filed by Texas lawmakers, demonstrating a change in tide as advocates and allies not only play defense against the barrage of harmful bills, but also outpace them with a push for bills that would benefit the lives of LGBTQ+ Texans across the state.
- Research from The Trevor Project found that 86% of LGBTQ youth say the bills that were proposed in 2022 have had a negative impact on their mental health.
- GLAAD’s Media Guide: State Legislation About LGBTQ People offers facts, context, and resources to journalists in pursuit of fair and accurate reporting on legislation that is proposed without evidence and against the expertise of medical, educational, and human rights professionals that would have negative effects on the dignity, equality, and physical wellbeing of LGBTQ people. Some recommended best practices in the guide include:
- Include LGBTQ voices in stories about LGBTQ people and issues. If reporting on a transgender issue specifically, seek a transgender voice. GLAAD can connect you.
- Elevate expertise over opinion, including facts from experts in relevant fields: healthcare, sports, education, and human rights.
- Include facts and information from experts and research, rather than repeating inaccurate bill language or analysis verbatim and without challenge.
- Challenge lawmakers and proponents of legislation to provide evidence and facts to support their assertions.
About Equality Texas:
We envision a Texas where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Texans and their families have full equality in the hearts and minds of our fellow Texans and in all areas of the law. Equality Texas works to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Texans through political action, education, community organizing, and collaboration.
About Transgender Education Network of Texas:
TENT is an organization dedicated to furthering gender-diverse equality in Texas. We work to accomplish this through education and networking in both public and private forums. Through our efforts, we strive to halt discrimination through social, legislative, and corporate education.
About GLAAD: GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.
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