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Texas Attorney General Brands Pride Week 'Illegal'

Texas Attorney General Brands Pride Week 'Illegal'

Texas' state attorney general has declared a school district's Pride Week event illegal.

Texas' state attorney general has declared a school district's Pride Week event illegal.

Between 21-26 March, Austin Independent School has been holding a Pride Week 'for [its] LGBTQIA+ students, staff and families'.

However, Attorney General Ken Paxton has revealed that he's sent a letter to the Austin Independent School district to complain about the event.

In the letter, Paxton accuses the school of breaking state law by dealing with topics surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity in a way which constitutes 'human sexuality instruction'.

Texas attorney general brands a school's Pride Week as 'illegal'.

Austin Independent School District described the week as 'an annual celebration' which sees 'campuses provided with activities that support the value of the LGBTQIA+ community'.

Ahead of the week of celebrations, the school's superintendent Dr Stephanie S. Elizalde stated: "Pride Month happens in June when we’re on summer break. Here at Austin ISD, we celebrate Pride during every school year so our LGBTQIA+ students know how much they are valued and loved.

"This year, it’s important to me personally that they know they are respected and safe, too, and lest anyone have any doubt, that absolutely goes for our trans kids. We are ALL Austin ISD. We embrace diversity."

However, Paxton took to Twitter to declare that as per the Texas Legislature, that parents rather than school districts should be in charge of sex education.

The letter reads: "Education Code section 28.004 (i-2) requires that '[b]efore a student may be provided with human sexuality instruction, a school district must obtain the written consent of the student's parent'.

"By hosting 'Pride Week,' your district has, at best, undertaken a week-long instructional effort in human sexuality without parental consent.

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

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Paxton went on to note that as a result of the Pride Week, that parents are now able to 'file grievances' with the school's board.

He also explained that parents are able to 'file complaints with the Texas Education Agency on the basis that [the] event violates 'school law' - specifically, Education code section 28.004(i-2)'.

The attorney general concluded: "I encourage you to take immediate action to rectify this situation."

Responding to Paxton's letter, superintendent Dr Elizalde tweeted: "I want all our LGBTQIA+ students to know that we are proud of them and that we will protect them against political attacks."

Jason Stanford, a spokesperson for the district, told The Washington Post: "We’re going to react to this by doubling down on making sure our kids feel safe and celebrating Pride."

Democratic candidate for governor of Texas, Beto O'Rourke, echoed similar thoughts.

Alongside a clip of himself performing a speech where he accuses Texas of 'attacking transgender kids and their families who are navigating some really tough issues in their lives,' he tweeted: "I’ll always prioritise the health, safety, and success of EVERY child in Texas."

Austin Independent School District told UNILAD: "We aren't worried about Paxton's letter. Pride Week and sex education are different. Celebrating diversity and acceptance is not illegal.

"This is exactly why we have Pride Week –– our LGBTQIA+ students need to know that when they walk into our schools, we support them and we will protect them against these political attacks."

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact the LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30, 10am–6pm Monday to Friday, or email [email protected] 

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence contact Mindline Trans+ on 0300 330 5468. The line is open 8pm–midnight Mondays and Fridays and is run by trans volunteers 

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Texas, LGBTQ