87th LegislatureAbbott Primary Opponent’s Pressure Led Texas Agency to Remove LGBT Resource Page, Emails Show

While the DFPS took down the webpage weeks ago, newly surfaced records indicate that Don Huffines' criticism prompted the change.
October 12, 2021
Don Huffines, one of Governor Greg Abbott’s 2022 primary challengers, accused him of spreading “damaging ideology” in August when Huffines publicized a webpage of resources for gay and transgender youth on a state website. The page was quickly taken down.

Now, records obtained by The Houston Chronicle indicate Huffines’ tweets spurred the state employees to make the website adjustment.

According to emails, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) media relations head Marissa Gonzales drew internal attention to Huffines’ statement minutes after it was posted. DFPS spokesman Patrick Crimmins then told staff to prepare to take the page down.

Abbott’s office did not immediately return a request for comment. After the Chronicle’s report, Huffines spiked the football on Twitter, saying, “I told Texans I would get this DFPS website taken down and stop Greg Abbott from using our tax dollars to promote transgender ideology.”

“Today’s report … shows I kept my promise.”

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Meant primarily for children, the page included suicide hotlines, “health resources,” a link to the Human Rights Campaign, and a video distinguishing gender identity from sexual orientation.

“The educational and support resources on this page are dedicated to helping empower and celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, alley, and non-heterosexual (LGBTQIA+) youth, their peers, and family,” the website read.

On August 31, Huffines publicized the page and released a statement accusing the DFPS of indoctrinating youth under Abbott’s watch.

“It’s no surprise that Greg Abbott won’t lift a finger to prevent the sick brainwashing of Texas kids. His own political appointees have been participating in it and now it’s clear his own agency is promoting perverted and damaging ideology on parents and kids,” Huffines wrote.

“Texas voters didn’t elect a Republican governor so he could use their tax dollars to assist the Human Rights Campaign or direct individuals to Left-wing ideology groups.”

Huffines has long used transgender issues as a political wedge to separate himself from Abbott. His accusation regarding Abbott’s “political appointees” refers to psychologist Susan Fletcher, whom Abbott has appointed to a number of state boards and who has served as a court-ordered counselor for the Younger family.

James Younger is a young Texas boy whose mother, Anne Georgulas, has waged a years-long legal battle for custody rights to raise him as a girl named “Luna,” the identity she insists he has adopted. His father Jeff claims that James only presents himself as a girl under the influence of his mother.

A judge awarded Georgulas full custody rights to James’ upbringing earlier this year after a hearing regarding Jeff’s refusal to follow certain court orders, including counseling. Jeff objected to the counseling since Fletcher’s schedule meant that James only visited her after coming from Georgulas’ house, dressed and acting as “Luna.”

Though Georgulas would still need Jeff’s consent to let James undergo puberty blockers or transition surgery — the sole exception to the court’s custody order, which otherwise strips Jeff of all consent rights in the child’s decisions — Jeff claims she intended to take James to the GENECIS clinic in Dallas to explore a physical transition. Jeff’s claims and James’ story prompted Republican state lawmakers to file several bills to ban gender transition procedures for children, all of which died in the regular Texas legislature this year before receiving a vote in the House.

In a July radio appearance well after the legislature had adjourned, Abbott promised to “address the problem.” The short interview segment was the first time Abbott gave public attention to the topic.

Shortly thereafter, Abbott asked DFPS Commissioner Jaime Masters in a letter whether gonadectomies constitute child abuse. Masters responded affirmatively in less than a week, announcing that the DFPS would interpret genital transition surgeries as child abuse under existing state law.

Abbott’s promised “solution” didn’t satisfy Republican lawmakers that had fought for more total bans in the legislature. State Rep. Bryan Slaton (R-Royse City), who unsuccessfully tried to curb child gender transition with several amendments during the regular session, asked the DFPS to broaden their interpretation to include puberty blockers, surgeries to other parts of the body, and counseling that encourages transition. After another state lawmaker later sent a similar request to the attorney general, the DFPS eventually responded to Slaton, saying it would wait on the attorney general’s answer.

The attorney general’s response is still pending.

Proposals to ban these procedures have gained mounting support in the legislature. In the first special session this year, a majority of the Texas House signed on to a bill by Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth) to revoke the licenses of doctors that perform surgeries or prescribe drugs meant to change a child’s sex.

Tuesday morning, Krause told Dallas radio host Mark Davis that a majority of the House supports his latest bill to ban these procedures and asked Abbott to add the topic to the agenda.

“I’m not sure what the hesitation is, but I hope he adds it to the call,” Krause said.


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Isaiah Mitchell

Isaiah Mitchell is a reporter for The Texan, a Texas native, and a huge Allman Brothers fan. He graduated cum laude from Trinity University in 2020 with a degree in English. Isaiah loves playing music and football with his family.