AUSTIN, Texas — Local leaders gathered Wednesday to declare Austin a safe and inclusive city for transgender families and the LGBTQ community.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Andy Brown were joined by advocates and other Austin and Travis County elected officials for the declaration.
The proclamation is in response to Gov. Greg Abbott’s directive that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) investigate gender-affirming care for transgender youth as child abuse.
“Our community vehemently opposes Texas state leadership’s efforts to limit the rights of our LGBTQ+ communities and their toxic, transphobic policies,” said Adler. “Austin is a magical city built on inclusion. We are proud that this position, integral to our culture and core values, has been longstanding and both consistently and loudly expressed in our words and our actions.”
PHOTOS: Austin declared a safe city for transgender families
“Trans kids and their families are welcome in Travis County,” said Brown. “In our community, we have made clear that we stand in solidarity with the trans community. We will work with them to keep our community safe. We will work with them to keep families together, ensure safe access to necessary medical care, and prohibit discrimination in any form. ”
Attorney Ian Pittman represents two families currently under investigation by DFPS. He represents another three families who are not currently being investigated but fear they could.
"This is a policy that is aimed at removing children from loving homes and putting them into a system," said Pittman. "The foster care system that has been found by a federal court to violate the civil rights of children in the foster care system."
Pittman said there are children who have been exposed to drugs and physical abuse that need more urgent intervention.
"To prioritize somebody providing medical care to a child over those types of reports is mind-boggling," added Pittman. "It shows you just how calculated this was to put this into the forefront of public attention at the expense of children, not to protect children, but at the expense of children."
A judge in Austin ruled last week that the State of Texas may not, for now, enforce actions targeting the parents of a transgender teen. The judge set a hearing, which has since been paused after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an appeal on the ruling.
“Officials have a solemn responsibility to protect the most vulnerable among us,” said Travis County District Attorney José Garza. “Travis County families with transgender children should not fear the unconstitutional and discriminatory directives from our state leaders. Our office will not interfere with the medical decisions made between children, parents, and their medical physicians”
Earlier this month, local community organizations held a rally to show unity for transgender kids and their families. And this week, UT students released a report claiming the university is not inclusive enough for the LGBTQ community. UT responded with a statement, saying in part that the university is "committed to fostering a campus that is inclusive, equitable, and accessible to all LGBTQIA+ people."
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