Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
Bob Daemmrich/Pool Photo via AP
A Texas state agency removed online LGBT resources after Gov. Abbott’s challenger mocked the site.
Emails obtained by the Houston Chronicle reveal the webpage was taken down 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 LGBT youth after Gov. Greg Abbott’s primary election opponent accused the lawmaker of advocating “for transgender ideology,” records obtained by the Houston Chronicle show.
Don Huffines, a businessman 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 a suicide prevention hotline and other resources meant to help queer kids on its website, including a section of the site titled “Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation.”
“These are not Texas values, these are not Republican Party values,” Huffines says in the video. “But these are obviously Greg Abbott’s values.”
-Don Huffines (@DonHuffines) August 31, 2021
Hours after Huffines’ video began gaining traction on social media, first, the “Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation” webpage was deleted.
Shortly thereafter, the entire Texas Youth Connection website was also 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 LGBT identity, according to the Chronicle.
The website has since been replaced with a message that reads, “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.
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
Nearly two months later, employee emails obtained by the Chronicle through a public records request reveal that Department of Family 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.
According to the outlet, the agency’s media relations director Marissa Gonzales emailed a link of Huffines’ video to the department’s communications director Patrick Crimmins 13 minutes after it was posted.
“FYI. This is starting to blow up on Twitter,” Gonzales reportedly wrote.
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 spokesman, told Insider that a content review “is still ongoing,” but did not 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 to find an alternative route in July.
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.