Texas attorney general says school district’s Pride week ‘breaks state law’

Ken Paxton called district’s Pride week ‘sex education’ and claimed without parental consent it is against law

The attorney general of Texas has declared a school district’s celebration of LGBTQ+ students “sex education” and in violation of Texas law.

For the past eight years, students in the Austin Independent school district have held a district-wide Pride week as a chance to celebrate LGBTQ+ students, staff and families in the district, according to the district’s website.

But on Tuesday, the Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton, sent a letter to the school district calling Pride week “sex education” and notifying the school that without parental consent, the celebration is “breaking state law”.

“The Texas legislature has made it clear that when it comes to sex education, parents – not school districts – are in charge,” said Paxton in his letter shared to Twitter.

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

The school district’s superintendent, Dr Stephanie S Elizalde, responded to the attorney general’s comments about 45 minutes after Paxton posted his letter.

“I want all our LGBTQIA+ students to know that we are proud of them and that we will protect them against political attacks,” said Elizalde on Twitter.

District spokesperson Jason Stanford spoke with the Washington Post and shared a similar message: “We’re going to react to this by doubling down on making sure our kids feel safe and celebrating Pride.”

Stanford also noted that Paxton’s letter was politically motivated as Paxton faces a primary runoff with another Republican in May and is being investigated by the FBI for bribery and abuse of office.

“This is not a parental rights issue,” said Stanford to the Post. “This is a Ken Paxton trying to score political points issue.”

In recent weeks, Paxton has targeted LGBTQ+ youth in Texas. In addition to the letter, last month, Paxton wrote an opinion stating that gender-affirming care for children was “child abuse” under Texas law, prompting the Republican governor, Greg Abbott, to instruct the state’s child protection services to investigate parents providing their children with that care.

When a judge temporarily blocked Abbott’s order, Paxton asked the state supreme court to overturn the ban.

After the Pride week’s agenda was shared online, some administrators in the Austin Independent school district had their personal information posted online and have received death threats, reported KUT, a local news affiliate.

Students were forced to have pride celebrations inside as police were stationed outside.

“The kids had no idea what was going on, but the teachers were afraid to go to work,” said Stanford. “So the last thing we’re worried about is what Ken Paxton has to say.”


Gloria Oladipo

The GuardianTramp

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