Texas agency removes webpage with suicide hotline and resources for LGBTQ+ youth
DALLAS – A state agency admits to removing a webpage with a suicide hotline and other resources for LGBTQ+ youth.
Reports show the website was taken down following criticism from a hyper-conservative challenger to Governor Greg Abbott.
This challenger, former Dallas State Senator Don Huffines, in an anti-LGBTQ+ statement, takes ownership of the page’s removal.
He also goes further by calling for the dismissal of an employee involved in his secondment.
The Department of Family and Protective Services website lists as a value: “We promote diversity, inclusion and equality by honoring individual differences.”
But it’s what’s no longer on the site that some say speaks to its values.
A webpage offering resources, including suicide prevention, for LGBTQ+ children and teens has now disappeared.
A spokesperson told FOX4, “The website has been temporarily disabled for a content review. The review is ongoing.”
The Houston Chronicle obtained recordings showing agency staff members were considering taking down the page in response to a video of Republican gubernatorial candidate Don Huffines on Aug. 31.
“This is Texas, this is not Texas values,” Huffines said in the video. “They talk about helping to empower and celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, questioning intersex, asexual, non-heterosexual allied behaviors and it just goes on and on. I mean, really?”
LGBTQ+ advocates are appalled by the removal of the webpage.
“To deny a state-level suicide hotline that targets children is morally wrong. And when they use words like being, you know, supporting transgender rights is not a Texas value. I think that bigotry and hate are not a Texan value,” Leslie said. McMurray, with the Resource Center.
The 13 Democratic state senators sent a letter to Governor Abbott on Tuesday asking that the page be reinstated.
Specifically, to express concern about the removal of content that led people to view suicide prevention information.
“It’s like you call the poison control hotline and the governor decides to get rid of it,” McMurray said. “There’s other information out there to find the information we need. But if you go to the state that’s supposed to have these things available, it’s not there. It could cost you valuable seconds.
This isn’t the first time Huffines has claimed his public statements have caused Governor Abbott or his administration to change course, making similar comments about the border and vaccination mandates.
“It’s such a pattern with Greg Abbott. Not only did Donald Trump criticize him for something, but if one of his challengers, who doesn’t really challenge him, criticizes him for something, he’ll jump on it. too,” said SMU political science professor Cal Jillson.
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Jillson notes that while there is conservative support for a pending special session bill that limits transgender student participation in youth sports, the removal of suicide prevention information could irritate even some of these supporters.
“So I can see where a lot of people might have reservations about transgender kids on sports teams who wouldn’t have reservations about providing critical information to vulnerable children,” Jillson said.
FOX4 reached out to the governor’s office to ask if he had a direct role in his agency’s decision, but his press secretary did not respond.
Any LGBTQ+ youth seeking help can contact The Trevor Project at 866-488-7386 or visit their website.