Many political campaign practices have routinely become mean, but former state Sen. Don Huffines of Dallas, who is challenging Gov. Greg Abbott in next year’s Republican primary, may have stooped to a new low, bordering on cruelty, when he attacked the important, sometimes life-saving services the state has provided LGBTQ youth in foster care.
In response, Abbott practiced his normal brand of political cowardice.
According to a story in the Houston Chronicle (linked below), Huffines in late August took to Twitter to accuse the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services of “promoting transgender sexual policies to Texas youth.”
Huffines attacked the agency for including a section on its website that included a link to a suicide prevention hotline and other resources “dedicated to helping empower and celebrate” young LGBTQ people.
“These are not Texas values, these are not Republican Party values, but these are obviously Greg Abbott’s values,” Huffines said in a video circulated among his Twitter followers.
Within hours, the webpage was gone, Chronicle reporter Jasper Scherer wrote. And so was the entire website for the Texas Youth Connection, a division of Family and Protective services that helps young people find various resources, such as education and housing. Huffines took credit.
The agency still hasn’t fully explained why the page was taken down, but staff communications obtained by the Chronicle under an open records request indicated it was a reaction to Huffines’ attack.
Abbott, who appoints the agency’s commissioner and nine-member council, has not commented on the incident.
Ricardo Martinez, chief executive of Equality Texas, an LGBTQ advocacy group, said LGBTQ children are disproportionately represented in foster care and “face staggering discrimination and abuse.” He also noted a survey that found that LGBTQ youth who reported having been in foster care were almost three times more likely to also report that they had attempted suicide within the past year, compared to LGBTQ children who had never been in foster care.
“The state is responsible for these kids’ lives, yet it intentionally removed a way for them to find help when they need it most,” he added.
Huffines is a bully, and Abbott can be easily bullied – if he thinks it will help him win reelection. That is not leadership. It is another form of pandering to intolerance, one of Abbott’s specialties.
Meanwhile, some very vulnerable kids are left to suffer.