Disclaimer: For this discussion, we will discuss the legal opinion from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and directive from Texas Governor Abbott regarding gender-affirming care for minors. Per Governor Abbott’s directive to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), I am a mandatory reporter. I want this course to be a safe space for all students, so please contact me if you feel uncomfortable about this topic or any topic that we discuss. I will never ask anyone to share personal details of your life or the lives of your loved ones. Side note: I do not teach from the textbook, and you are not required to read it. Consider the textbook as a reference to provide clarification on various topics. You should read the information below; it will help you complete the assignment. I can tell if you read the information because it is generally reflected in the quality of work that you submit. Key Concepts (Visit Chapter 3: 3 Things to Know for more information.) Texas Checks and Balances Texas Separation of Powers Texas Plural Executive The Intersection of Multiple Identities (Optional) The intersection of multiple identities are difficult topics to discuss in person, let alone online. They are complex, multi-faceted, and can evoke strong emotion. I just ask that you proofread your discussion responses before posting and try not to lump groups of people together. Not all people who identify as Latino speak Spanish and not all White people are racist. If you make a general statement about a group of people, you will need to include reputable cited sources to affirm your argument. You may want to use the word 'some' before discussing a group of people. It is okay if you feel uncomfortable discussing certain topics, if so I encourage you to focus on the facts and utilize quotes from the articles. Feel free to contact me if needed. The Advocate. (2018, January 25). What Is Intersectionality? | Queer 101 | The Advocate. YouTube [Video]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXJ4Dbdm1ks Introduction (Since I do not teach from the textbook, this section will provide you with an overview of the topic.) According to the 2020 U.S. Census data, not only is the U.S. becoming more diverse, so is Texas. People of color in Texas now outnumber the White population. the 2020 U.S. Census shows that Texas is now 40% White and approximately 39% Latino. (The Texas Latino population grew by approximately 1.9 million from 2010.) People of color make up 95% of the population growth in Texas over the last 10 years. Individuals under 18 make up 25.5% of the Texas population. Why was this information included? Throughout the course, we will discuss various topics and how the changing demographics in America, and Texas impact laws, policy, and how those decisions impact Texas residents. The Freedom for All Americans states that there are over 40 pending bills across the United States that may hinder the rights of LGBTQ+ people. The Florida State Legislature recently passed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill, which the governor is expected to sign into law. The bill will ban “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity” in elementary schools. According to Equality Texas, there have been over 30 anti-LGBTQ+ proposed legislation in Texas. Data (You will need to incorporate data into your assignment to fulfill the Quality of Evidence section of the discussion rubric. Feel free to use the information below to support your argument. The 'Research and Data Resources' module offers helpful videos on ways to incorporate data into your assignments.) Rummler, O. (2022, March 9). Republicans split on whether the government should block crucial gender-affirming care, poll shows. The 19th. https://19thnews.org/2022/03/republicans-split-blocking-gender-affirming-care-trans-youth-poll/ University Libraries. (2022, February 24). LGBTQ Studies. UNT. https://guides.library.unt.edu/LGBTQ/ERdata Texas Demographics America Counts Staff. (2021, August 15). Texas Added Almost 4 Million People in Last Decade. U.S. Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/library/stories/state-by-state/texas-population-change-between-census-decade.html NBC News. (2021, August 21). Census Shows A More Diverse, Urban America. YouTube. [Video]. https://youtu.be/cqJwKu4dNSk U.S. Census Bureau. (n.d.). Quick Facts: Texas. https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/TX Discussion Overview (You will need to read this section, as it will give you instructions for completing your assignment.) On Monday, February 21, 2022, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a formal opinion that gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth and stated that treatments like puberty blockers were considered child abuse. Here is his statement “There is no doubt that these procedures are ‘abuse’ under Texas law, and thus must be halted,” said Attorney General Paxton. “The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) has a responsibility to act accordingly. I’ll do everything I can to protect against those who take advantage of and harm young Texans.” The next day, Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to investigate all cases of “Texas children being subjected to abusive gender-transitioning procedures”. The directive mandates that "Texas law imposes reporting requirements upon all licensed professionals who have direct contact with children who may be subject to such abuse, including doctors, nurses, and teachers, and provides criminal penalties for failure to report such child abuse". Many Texas trans youth, their parents, and caretakers are fearful and believe that they are “being subjected to unwarranted "child abuse" investigations simply for receiving medically necessary care to affirm their gender.” I do want to mention that not all Texas Republicans support anti-LGBTQ+ legislation or the aforementioned opinion on transgender youth. Optional Videos PBS NewsHour. (2022, February 24). Claiming abuse, Texas tries to prevent gender-affirming care for trans children. [Video]. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/claiming-abuse-texas-tries-to-prevent-gender-affirming-care-for-trans-children Powell, T. (2022, February 24). Texas Governor Greg Abbott orders state agencies to investigate gender-transitioning procedures as child abuse. CBS News. [Video]. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/transgender-gender-transitioning-procedures-child-abuse-texas/ Assignment (You will need to answer the key concepts in bold because they connect to the course and account for the Knowledge of Subject Manner section of the discussion rubric. You may find further information on the key concepts in the corresponding module under Chapter 3: 3 Things to Know.) For this discussion, you will draft a policy memo to the Texas Legislature regarding gender-affirming care for trans youth. 1. Read the legal opinion from Texas Attorney General Paxton and the letter from Governor Abbott. Attorney General of Texas. (2022, February 21). AG Paxton Declares So-Called Sex-Change Procedures on Children and Prescription of Puberty Blockers to be “Child Abuse” Under Texas Law. The State of Texas. https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/news/releases/ag-paxton-declares-so-called-sex-change-procedures-children-and-prescription-puberty-blockers-be Office of the Texas Governor. (2022, February 22). Governor Abbott Directs DFPS To Investigate Gender-Transitioning Procedures As Child Abuse. The State of Texas. https://gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-abbott-directs-dfps-to-investigate-gender-transitioning-procedures-as-child-abuse 2. Research the concerns from Texans who fear that children are being “subjected to abusive gender-transitioning procedures” and those who believe that gender-affirming care for youth is necessary and saves lives. 3. Determine your position. I implore you to view the topic from multiple perspectives and try to understand the arguments from a different lens. Does providing Texas youth with gender-transitioning procedures constitute child abuse or is it medically necessary? Or, are you neutral? If you are neutral or undecided, your opinion is still important to the discourse. You may be able to see both arguments clearly and find common ground or assist in closing the divide. Regardless, of your position, you should take into account the well-being of Texas children, those who may oppose your point of view, and the desires of those who drafted the directives. 4. Draft your modified policy memo in at least 300 words. Since this is a draft, you will not need to address your policy memo. Answer the questions below. To be clear, I do not expect you to choose a side. I want you to evaluate the merits and examine the impact on Texans. Be sure to review the discussion rubric tab under the 'Start Here' module for details on how your discussions will be graded. For the purposes of this discussion, here is how I am defining a policy memo: A policy memo is a document written to provide an analysis or recommendation of an issue to influence decision-makers. Policy Memo Components: 1st Paragraph Introduction: Write an overview of the problem. What important information should the Texas Legislature know about the legal opinion and directives for Texas youth who seek gender-affirming care? Why is the problem urgent? 1-2 sentences Your Position on the Topic: Detail why you are for, against, or neutral on the issue. Does providing Texas youth with gender-transitioning procedures constitute child abuse? What will happen to Texas youth who have already undergone gender-affirming care? Will limiting their access to healthcare infringe on their civil rights? What are the larger implications of the problem? Who does the problem impact? How are they impacted? 2-3 sentences Governmental Background: Is the Texas Constitution too vague? Should it explicitly detail what is considered child abuse and align to the new Texas demographics (Texas is becoming less conservative and 25.5% of the population are under 18.)? Does the demographics of a community dictate how responsive they will be to gender-affirming care for youth? Within the Texas system of separation of powers, provide 1 recourse the current judicial and legislative branches have to counteract potential political overreach of the executive branch? In other words, what can the Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Legislature do if they disagree with the Texas Executive Branch? How effective is the Texas system of checks and balances when all 3 branches are controlled by the same party and ideology? What can be done to counteract the political influence? What impact does the Texas plural executive have on gender-transitioning procedures for Texas youth? For example, what if Governor Abbott was forced to write the directive because of the legal opinion from the Texas Office of the Attorney General. Did the legal opinion weaken Governor Abbotts' power under plural executive? Why or why not? 3-4 sentences (You must answer the questions in bold, visit Chapter 3: 3 Things to Know for more information.) 2nd Paragraph Recommendation: What do you recommend the Texas Legislature do to better secure the well-being of Texas youth? Use data and quotes to back up your recommendations. Why is your recommendation the best option? Who will support your recommendation? Who will be against it? Note: Recommendations should be based on evidence that the problem exists and that the consequences (good or bad) of not accepting your recommendation will negatively impact Texas youth. 2-3 sentences Implementation: How should your recommendations be implemented? Who needs to be involved? How will you inform the public? When and where should action take place? Will your recommendation increase the budget? Will it require input from Texas parents, youth, and doctors? How will you address the opposition? 2-3 sentences 3rd Paragraph Conclusion: Why should the Texas Legislature care about this issue? What is the goal of your policy recommendation? What will happen if the decision-makers do not implement your recommendations? What are the best strategies to manage the accessibility of equitable healthcare for Texas youth? What weight should a non-binding legal opinion have? Remind the Texas Legislature of the urgency of your recommendations and implementation plan. What is your call to action? 2-3 sentences Citations: You must include at least 2 citations. Adapted from Marie Danziger, Harvard Kennedy School, “Option and Decision Memos: Basic Components,” 1988. You may deviate from the paragraph format but you must include the components (introduction, background, recommendations, etc.). Sample Policy Memo Bush School Writing. (n.d.). Policy Memos. Texas A&M University. https://sites.google.com/site/bushschoolwriting/policy-documents/policy-memos. (You will find a video link at the bottom of the page.) Questions to think about: Providing gender-affirming care to youth in Texas is not new, why is it an issue now? Who should decide if gender-transitioning procedures are appropriate for Texas youth? Who currently benefits and who is disadvantaged from the legal opinion and directive? What are the larger implications for the Texas LGBTQ+ community? Is this governmental overreach, or is the government performing exactly as it was designed?