Just in time for LGBTQ Pride Month, the Texas Republican Party has again endorsed the discredited practice of conversion therapy.
Support for the widely debunked “gay cure” treatment was one of 24 anti-LGBTQ positions adopted at last week’s Texas GOP Convention, which was held in San Antonio June 14 to 16. As Houston’s OutSmart magazine originally reported, their platform includes language opposing LGBTQ-inclusive hate crimes laws, open trans military service, and even the very existence of transgender people.
Of the more than 300 party principles outlined in a document approved by representatives, the 14th makes explicit reference to conversion therapy, which is also known as “reparative therapy” or “orientation change.” The Texas GOP explicitly condemns any law which would prevent counselors from offering these services to queer and transgender youth, even though the treatment has been condemned by nearly every leading U.S. medical association.
“No laws or executive orders shall be imposed to limit or restrict access to sexual orientation counseling for self-motivated youth and adults,” the Texas GOP stated.
This platform plank is largely unchanged from 2014, when the Republican party platform made reference to “the legitimacy and efficacy of counseling, which offers reparative therapy and treatment for those patients seeking healing and wholeness from their homosexual lifestyle.”
In a year where states like Hawaii and New Hampshire have joined the growing list of states banning the anti-LGBTQ practice, advocacy groups condemned the Texas GOP for continuing to target queer and trans youth.
“Fourteen states and Washington, D.C. have laws or regulations effectively banning so-called conversion therapy for minors, and several others have pending legislation that would do the same,” said Nick Morrow, Human Rights Campaign Southern States press secretary, in a statement to INTO. “Meanwhile, Republican leaders in Texas continue to needlessly and cruelly attack their LGBTQ residents, contrary to the will of their own constituents.”
“It would be great if the Texas GOP could join the rest of us in the year 2018,” Morrow continued.
States that have outlawed conversion therapy include California, Connecticut, Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. While New York has yet to pass legislation at the statewide level prohibiting any attempt to treat the gender identity or sexual orientation of LGBTQ youth as a curable condition, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order preventing insurance agencies from covering conversion therapists.
Sam Brinton, the head of advocacy and government affairs for The Trevor Project and a survivor of conversion therapy, noted that many of statewide pushes to ban orientation change were bipartisan efforts.
“It is critical to remember that equal numbers of Republican and and Democrat governors have signed legislation protecting LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy—four this year alone,” Brinton said in a statement to INTO. “When politicians add the promotion of conversion therapy as a political priority, they should know they are on the wrong side of history, no matter which side of the political aisle they stand on.”
But continuing to back conversion therapy was far from the only eyebrow-raising aspect of the Texas Republican platform passed this month.
The state GOP affirmed its belief in the “traditional marriage of a natural man and a natural woman,” an anti-marriage equality statement which implicitly suggests that transgender people are “unnatural.” Calling heterosexual partnerships “God’s biblical design for marriage,” the platform also urged Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to reject the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.
“We believe this decision, overturning the Texas law prohibiting same-sex marriage in Texas, has no basis in the Constitution and should be reversed, returning jurisdiction over the definition of marriage to the states,” conservatives argued.
In addition to taking a stand against nondiscrimination protections in public accomodations for LGBTQ people and in favor of so called “religious freedom” laws, the local Republican Party goes out of its way to target the state’s transgender population. When it comes to the teaching of trans identities in Texas schools—which the GOP staunchly opposes—its position is that “there are only two genders: male and female.”
It only gets worse from there—much, much worse.
“We oppose all efforts to validate transgender identity,” the Texas GOP stated. “We call upon our legislature to enact laws prohibiting the use of hormones before the age of 18 in an attempt to change gender. We believe it should be illegal to remove healthy body parts in minors in an effort to try to transition to the opposite sex.”
Despite the failure of an HB 2-like bathroom bill in the Texas Legislature last year, conservatives supported any future attempts to pass legislation which would force trans people to use restrooms which do not correspond with their gender identity.
“We call on the Texas Legislature to pass legislation to protect privacy in public schools and government buildings as allowed by Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, by ensuring multi-use facilities, including showers, changing rooms, and bathrooms, are designated for and used only by persons based on the person’s biological sex,” the Republican Party claimed.
Its GOP platform also opposed any attempt to compel teachers, school staffers, or any other individual to use the correct pronouns when referring to a transgender person.
The Texas Republican Party did take a small step forward in exactly one way. Conservatives struck language from the previous platform calling "homosexual behavior... contrary to the fundamental truths that have been ordained by God in the Bible.”
You can read the platform in its entirety here.