\r\n\r\nBy Allyson Waller, Texas Tribune\r\nFor LGBTQ mental health support, call the Trevor Project\u2019s 24\/7 toll-free support line at 866-488-7386. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text 741741 from anywhere in the country to reach a trained crisis counselor. Read our mental health resource guide for more information.\r\nTexas\u2019 child welfare agency removed a webpage that offered resources to LGBTQ youth following complaints by one of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott\u2019s GOP primary challengers, according to internal agency communications.\r\nThe Texas Department of Family and Protective Services webpage, which provides information to children in the foster care system, included information about a suicide prevention hotline, LGBTQ legal services, and questions about defining gender and sexual identity.\r\nOn Aug. 31, Republican former state Sen. Don Huffines released a video on Twitter claiming that DFPS is \u201cpromoting transgender sexual policies to Texas youth\u201d through a webpage titled \u201cGender Identity and Sexual Orientation.\u201d\r\n\u201cThese are not Texas values, these are not Republican party values, but these are obviously Greg Abbott\u2019s values, that\u2019s why we need a change, that\u2019s what my campaign\u2019s about,\u201d Huffines said.\r\nThe Houston Chronicle first reported on the internal agency correspondence. According to communications obtained by The Texas Tribune, in the hours after Huffines\u2019 video went up, DFPS employees discussed the possibility of removing the webpage or changing its content.\r\nHuffines, a staunch conservative, is challenging Abbott from the right in next year\u2019s GOP primary. Abbott\u2019s office has not responded to a request for comment on the matter. The governor has power to appoint the DFPS commissioner and the agency\u2019s nine-member council.\r\nIn an email to DFPS spokesperson Patrick Crimmins on Aug. 31, DFPS media specialist Marissa Gonzales wrote that Huffines\u2019 video was \u201cstarting to blow up on Twitter,\u201d linking to his video and the webpage in question. The page was populated with information from the Texas Youth Connection, a DFPS division that provides \u201clocal and national resources to help youth transition into adulthood.\u201d\r\nCrimmins then emailed Darrell Azar, the agency\u2019s web and creative services director.\r\n\u201cDarrell \u2013 please note we may need to take that page down, or somehow revise content,\u201d Crimmins wrote.\r\nIn response, Azar said the Texas Youth Connection had content for LGBTQ youth \u201cfor as long as I can remember\u201d and that content was provided by staff from the agency\u2019s Preparation of Adult Living Program. Azar alerted another colleague that something may need to be done on \u201cshort notice.\u201d\r\nThe next day, Sept. 1, agency staffers discussed language for the webpage saying its content was being reviewed. The page is currently disabled and includes a message that says it is undergoing \u201ca comprehensive review of its content.\u201d Last week, Crimmins said the review of the website was \u201cstill ongoing.\u201d He did not answer questions as to what prompted the website to be taken down and how long the review will last.\r\nIn a statement, Huffines said he had followed through on his commitment to get the webpage taken down.\r\n\u201cWe aren\u2019t surprised that state employees who are loyal to Greg Abbott had to scramble after we called their perverse actions out,\u201d Huffines said in a statement. \u201cI promised Texans I would get rid of that website, and I kept that promise.\u201d\r\nRicardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas, an organization that promotes equality for LGBTQ Texans, condemned the decision to take down the information.\r\n\u201cState agencies know that LGBTQ+ kids are overrepresented in foster care and they know they face truly staggering discrimination and abuse,\u201d Martinez said in a statement. \u201cThe state is responsible for these kids\u2019 lives, yet it actively took away a resource for them when they are in crisis. What\u2019s worse, this was done at the start of Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month.\u201d\r\nAccording to a 2021 survey from the Trevor Project, a national organization that focuses on LGBTQ youth suicide prevention and crisis intervention, about 42% of LGBTQ youth \u201cseriously considered attempting suicide in the past year.\u201d\r\nOn Tuesday, all 13 of Texas\u2019 Democratic state senators sent a letter to Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dade Phelan and DFPS Commissioner Jamie Masters, urging them to reinstate the Texas Youth Connection web page \u201cto make certain all youth, especially those in the LGBTQ+ community\u201d have access to important resources.\r\n\u201cAs leaders of our state, we must do more to protect our most vulnerable populations, including ensuring life-saving resources such as crisis lines and legal help are easy to access,\u201d the senators wrote.\r\nIn early August, Abbott directed DFPS to look into whether providing gender-confirmation surgeries for transgender children would constitute child abuse. Such care for kids largely does not consist of surgeries such as orchiectomies, hysterectomies and mastectomies, according to medical experts. DFPS replied to Abbott\u2019s requests by stating that such surgeries could be classified as abuse, although it\u2019s not clear what weight and impact the decision carries.\r\nIn each of the four legislative sessions this year, legislation targeting transgender youth has been a top priority for Republican lawmakers. During the third special session, legislation prohibiting transgender youth from playing on sports teams that correspond with their gender identity has passed in the Senate and has passed out of committee in the House. Lawmakers have also introduced legislation this special session that would restrict physicians from administering gender-affirming care to children.\r\nDisclosure: Equality Texas has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.\r\nThis article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at texastribune.org\/2021\/10\/12\/texas-lgbtq-resources-department-family-protective-services.