Fighting Fear with Facts: Equality Texas Works with State Senator José Rodríguez and El Paso Leaders to Make Sure Texans Have Accurate Information about LGBTQ Issues

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For Immediate Release

MEDIA CONTACT: Susan Risdon, 214-226-6741


El Paso, Texas – June 3, 2016– Equality Texas, the largest statewide organization solely dedicated to securing full equality for LGBTQ Texans, joined with state Sen. José Rodríguez and other El Paso leaders to launch an education campaign in Texas to fight LGBTQ discrimination.

State Sen. Rodríguez, in partnership with Equality Texas, a statewide organization that works to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Texans, were host to two events in El Paso June 2 and 3: a workshop on transgender healthcare, and a community forum on issues facing the larger LGBTQ community.

Recently, highly-publicized events have shown the need for such educational efforts. The trainings, planned by Sen. Rodríguez’s office and Equality Texas prior to these recent events, are meant to provide education for health care providers and community members. Equality Texas plans to provide similar trainings elsewhere in the state.

At the El Paso event, Adriano Kristian Perez bravely told his story about being transgender in Texas.   Perez is part of a special photo project called “Gender Me Not,” to help introduce the El Paso community to transgender and gender non-conforming El Pasoans. Equality Texas also is launching a similar project, called the “TransVisible Project,” to introduce transgender Texans to communities all over the state of Texas.

“If there’s a single thing you need to know about me to put my life into context, it’s that I never felt like I belonged anywhere. For most of my life I didn’t really have a choice to decide who I was. It was decided for me,” said Perez.

Today’s news conference is part of a larger education effort by Sen. Rodríguez’s office, in collaboration with Equality Texas. Yesterday, the organizations presented two trainings to educate the public on prevalent issues within the LGBTQ community. The trainings included: “Understanding Dynamics in Transgender Healthcare,” focused on increasing healthcare professional’s knowledge of healthcare disparities in the transgender community, and the second titled, a “Holistic view of issues facing the LGBTQ community.”

The educational series is especially needed now, as politicians across the country target the transgender community. In March, the so-called “bathroom bill” became law in North Carolina. Texas political leadership quickly followed. Because the public is unfamiliar with the facts surrounding transgender individuals, those who have lost on marriage equality and other civil rights issues seek to define this issue before people have a chance to learn the facts.

(Op-ed- 7 things a Baptist Preacher has learned about transgender people)

In May, President Obama issued guidance explaining that under Title IX, the federal anti-discrimination law in education, schools receiving federal funds may not discriminate based on a student’s sex, including a student’s transgender status. This followed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the state of North Carolina for its extreme, discriminatory anti-LGBTQ bill. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in filing the lawsuit, “This action is about a great deal more than just bathrooms.  This is about the dignity and respect we accord our fellow citizens and the laws that we, as a people and as a country, have enacted to protect them – indeed, to protect all of us.”

In Texas, 67% of Texans favor a law protecting LGBT people against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing.  And 53% oppose letting a small business owner refuse to serve someone who is LGBT based on their personal religious beliefs.  We are making progress, and it is crucial that we not allow misinformation to become law.

“Transgender Texans, like all Texans, need to use public restrooms without fear for their safety or security.  Proposed laws in other states and what may be proposed in Texas during the next legislative session would roll back decades-old policies and laws that ensure that transgender people have access to restrooms appropriate to their gender. These proposed laws exploit that fear to attack a vulnerable community, subjecting transgender children and adults to harm.  The laws are unenforceable without massive police intrusion on privacy rights and create an expensive liability for businesses,” said Lou Weaver, the first statewide transgender programs coordinator for Equality Texas.

“I am proud to partner with Equality Texas to educate our community and citizens all over this state about the myths some leaders in our state choose to use to mislead our citizens and discriminate against our fellow Texans.  We support efforts to bring attention to LGBTQ El Pasoans and Texans and to make sure we get accurate information in the hands of our constituents,” said state Sen. Rodríguez.

“It is the responsibility of all of us to educate ourselves so these false attacks can be exposed for what they are; a solution where there is no problem in order to perpetuate discrimination against LGBT Texans,” said County Judge Veronica Escobar.  “Some Texas leaders are appealing to the worst chapters of our history, in which discrimination runs rampant and understanding and compassion are absent. Their proposals would cause Texas to put billions of dollars of federal school funding at risk and threaten the Texas economy.”

“El Paso continues to make strides in breaking barriers and serving as an inclusive community.  While some statewide politicians spend their time grand-standing, expressing fake outrage and misrepresenting the facts to try and manipulate Texans, we have leaders in El Paso working to educate and advance our community.  Discrimination continues to plague the LGBTQ community, but more so for our transgender brothers and sisters.  Equality Texas is committed to continue advancing equality for all Texans,” said Ruben Vogt, a member of the Equality Texas Board of Directors from El Paso.

Link to the American Values Atlas study on public opinion about LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws and religious exemptions:




Equality Texas is the largest statewide organization working to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Texans through political action, education, community organizing, and collaboration.  The Equality Texas Foundation works to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Texans through education, community organizing, and collaboration.