A Texas state agency removed a suicide hotline and resources for LGBTQ youth from its website after Gov. Greg Abbott's primary opponent accused him of advocating for transgender people

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Greg Abbott
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Bob Daemmrich/Pool Photo via AP
  • A Texas state agency removed online LGBTQ resources after Gov. Abbott's challenger mocked the site.

  • Emails obtained by the Houston Chronicle show the webpage was removed in response to the criticism.

  • The website remains offline as a review is "ongoing."

A Texas state agency disabled a website that included a suicide hotline and resources for LGBTQ youth after Gov. Greg Abbott's primary-election opponent accused the lawmaker of advocating "for transgender ideology," records obtained by the Houston Chronicle showed.

Don Huffines, a business owner and former state senator, is running against Abbott for the Republican Party's gubernatorial nomination as Abbott sinks to the lowest approval ratings of his career.

In late August, Huffines published a video on Twitter attacking the governor for allowing Texas Youth Connection, a division of the state's Department of Family and Protective Services, to host on its website a suicide-prevention hotline and other resources meant to help queer kids, including a section of the site titled "Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation."

"These are not Texas values. These are not Republican Party values," Huffines said in the video. "But these are obviously Greg Abbott's values."

Hours after Huffines' video began gaining traction on social media, the "Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation" webpage was deleted.

Shortly thereafter, the entire Texas Youth Connection website was disabled. The website for Texas Youth Connection is an offshoot of Family and Protective Services. It aims to help kids prepare for life after foster care and included resources for housing and education, in addition to information about LGBTQ identity, the Chronicle reported.

The website has since been replaced with this message: "The Texas Youth Connection website has been temporarily disabled for a comprehensive review of its content. This is being done to ensure that its information, resources, and referrals are current."

A screenshot of the current landing page for the Texas Youth Connection website.
A screenshot of the landing page for the Texas Youth Connection website. Texas Department of Family and Protective Services

Almost two months later, employee emails obtained by the Chronicle through a public-records request showed that Department of Family and Protective Services employees discussed removing the "Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation" webpage on the Texas Youth Connection website as a direct response to Huffines' video, right before the page was taken offline.

The outlet reported that Marissa Gonzales, the agency's media-relations director, emailed a link of Huffines' video to Patrick Crimmins, the department's communications director, 13 minutes after it was posted.

"FYI. This is starting to blow up on Twitter," Gonzales wrote, the Chronicle reported.

Crimmins then reached out to the agency's web- and creative-services director, saying, "We may need to take that page down, or somehow revise content," the Chronicle reported.

The entire Texas Youth Connection website remains "temporarily disabled" as of Tuesday.

In a statement to the Chronicle, Huffines took credit for the site's removal.

"We aren't surprised that state employees who are loyal to Greg Abbott had to scramble after we called their perverse actions out," Huffines told the newspaper. "I promised Texans I would get rid of that website and I kept that promise."

Crimmins, who serves as the department's spokesperson, told Insider that a content review was "still ongoing," but he didn't answer specific questions about why the site had been taken down.

This is not the first time Abbott and the state government have been pressured to restrict resources for the transgender community in 2021.

Miffed after the state legislature failed to pass a law restricting transgender children from accessing transition-related care, the governor pledged in July to find an alternate route.

The governor also acquiesced and added plans to create a law restricting transgender kids from playing on school sports teams that match their gender identity after hounding from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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