Gov. Greg Abbott Wants to ‘End’ Trans Teachers Expressing Their Gender in Texas

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott suggested that he wants to end transgender and gender nonconforming individuals from expressing their gender while teaching in the state.

At a speech delivered Friday at the Young Conservatives of Texas convention, Abbott described a report of a high school teacher who wore feminine clothing rather than clothing that matched their gender assigned at birth. Abbott said this teacher “was a man who would go to school dressed as a woman in a dress, high heels, and makeup” and declared that he wants to “end” that “type of behavior” in the state.

Texas Observer reporter Steven Monacelli was at the speech and captured Abbott’s remarks on audio:

“Just up the street from where we are right now is Lewisville, Texas. In Lewisville, Texas, in the high school, recently — as in just a month ago — they had a high school teacher who was a man who would go to school dressed as a woman in a dress, high heels, and makeup. Now, what do you think is going through the mind of the students that’s in that classroom? Are they focusing on the subject that this person is trying to teach? I don’t know. What I do know are these two things: One is this person, a man, dressing as a woman, in a public high school in the state of Texas, he’s trying to normalize the concept that this type of behavior is OK. This type of behavior is not OK, and this is the type of behavior that we want to make sure we end in the state of Texas.”

Because of a Supreme Court decision, Bostock v. Clayton County, LGBTQ individuals are a protected class under federal law that bars discrimination in the workplace. Earlier this month, a federal judge temporarily blocked a Florida law that prevented a transgender teacher from using pronouns that do not align with their sex assigned at birth. This case stems from the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law that has been successfully challenged in other courts under the First Amendment, striking down provisions that attempted to censor teachers from mentioning LGBTQ individuals on school grounds and prohibited them from displaying family photos if they were in an LGBTQ relationship.

“This time,” U.S. District Judge Mark Walker wrote in his decision to temporarily block the law, “the State of Florida declares that it has the absolute authority to redefine your identity if you choose to teach in a public school. So, the question before this Court is whether the First Amendment permits the State to dictate, without limitation, how public-school teachers refer to themselves when communicating to students. The answer is a thunderous ‘no.’”

Monacelli noted that after Abbott’s remarks, a number of conservative politicians in Texas came out in support of a ban on teachers dressing in ways that do not line up with their gender assigned at birth. They include Texas GOP Chair Matt Rinaldi, Republican state Rep. Briscoe Cain (who tweeted, “Perverts should not be teachers,” falsely equating trans individuals with perversion), Republican state Rep. Brent Money, and State Republican Executive Committee committeeman Rolando Garcia.

In Texas, Abbott has declared an assault on trans youth rights. In June of last year, he signed legislation that banned trans youth from accessing transition-related care such as hormone therapy and puberty blockers. Two months later the American Academy of Pediatrics reiterated its support for youth having access to gender-related treatments. Similar laws across the country have forced families with trans children to leave their states in order to access treatment.

LGBTQ rights groups, including PFLAG and the American Civil Liberties Union, have filed lawsuits challenging the Texas law.

More from Rolling Stone

Best of Rolling Stone