By Cameron Wallace
Dozens of University of Houston students gathered outside the MD Anderson Library on campus Tuesday morning to protest anti-LGBTQ bills in the Texas Legislature.
They were joined by representatives from the Texas Freedom Network, GLAAD, Indivisible Houston and other pro-LGBTQ groups for the “Texas Students Against Hate” rally.
“Today we’re here to stand up against any anti-equality, anti-LGBTQ legislation, specifically SB6 and these kinds of anti-trans rhetoric and bills that are creating a backlash against the LGBTQ community,” said Rachel Clark, a member of the UH chapter of Texas Rising, a project of the Texas Freedom Network.
“LGBTQ people are you and me, brothers and sisters, leaders and doctors, and we deserve legislation that doesn’t take away our freedom and rights,” Clark added.
In addition to the bathroom bills, the Legislature is considering a number of “religious freedom” proposals that would give businesses and others a license to discriminate against the LGBTQ community.
“Bathroom bills are only one of the many threats that members of the LGBTQ community face in this legislative session,” said Lincoln Dow, founder of Texas Students United. “This is a group that’s fighting for equality and fairness under law, which is long overdue.”
In many cases, the rhetoric used to push bills like SB6 is seen as promoting discrimination and violence regardless of whether they pass. Such bills are often justified with language that promotes the view that LGBTQ people are scary or dangerous.
“Throughout this legislative session, and in particular when discussing SB6, LGBTQ people have been unfairly demeaned and vilified,” said Ali Lozano, Houston outreach and field coordinator for the Texas Freedom Network. “We’re talking about a group of people who are already vulnerable to discrimination and violence.”
Similar rallies were held at Texas State University in San Marcos, the University of Texas at San Antonio, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, the University of Houston Downtown, and the University of Texas at Austin.
According to Lozano, those who were unable to attend the rallies can still show support for the cause by contacting their legislators.
“We believe most Texans believe in treating others with respect and dignity,” Lozano said. “Your legislators hearing from you works. It really does. If every Texan who supports equality made a call to their representatives, the conversation inside the Capitol might be different.”