Politics

Texas Removes Suicide Hotline, LGBTQ+ Resource Site After Criticism


Greg Abbott has worked hard to establish himself as one of the most MAGA-friendly governors in the United States, but, as he gears up for reelection next year, he’s learning that the well of right-wing depravity hath no bottom. Still, he seems determined to try to find it.

The Houston Chronicle reported on Tuesday that the Texas governor’s administration took down a state-maintained website that committed the mortal sin of directing at-risk teens to a suicide prevention hotline, all because one of his challengers criticized how the site empowered LGBTQ+ youth.

In a video posted to Twitter in late August, former state Senator and current Abbott opponent Don Huffines railed against the Texas Youth Connection, a website he described as “disturbing” because of the resources it offered LGBTQ+ teens. The state’s Department of Family and Protective Services, Huffines argued, was “promoting transgender sexual policies to Texas youth.”

“This is Texas,” Huffines went on. “These are not Texas values, these are not Republican Party values, but these are obviously Greg Abbott’s values.”

According to the Chronicle, the site was taken down just hours after Huffines posted his rant. “The Texas Youth Connection website has been temporarily disabled for a comprehensive review of its content,” the site now reads. “This is being done to ensure that its information, resources, and referrals are current.”

The Chronicle obtained communications making it clear this was no coincidence. Less than 15 minutes after Huffines posted his video, the FPS started discussing it, with media relations director Marissa Gonzalez noting that it was “blowing up on Twitter.”

“Please note we may need to take that page down, or somehow revise content,” Patrick Crimmins, the department’s communications director, then wrote to Darrell Azar, its web and creative services director. Crimmins declined to answer questions from the Chronicle about the department’s motivation for removing the site.

Huffines is one of a handful of Republicans trying to primary Abbott from the right ahead of the 2022 election. They include Chat Prather, a cowboy-hat-wearing conservative comedian; Paul Belew, an attorney running with a “Better Call Paul” slogan; and Allen West, a former congressman who spent the weekend spouting anti-vaccine rhetoric on Twitter despite being hospitalized with Covid-19. West has been fiercely critical of vaccine mandates, and Abbott’s decision on Monday to ban private businesses from imposing them — despite saying in August that “private businesses don’t need government running their business” — may have had something to do with the heat he’s feeling from his right-wing challengers.

Huffines, too, has bashed vaccines mandates. He’s also been gloating incessantly since the Chronicle reported on how the Abbott administration panicked when they realized one of his challengers might be more homophobic than he is. “Greg Abbott was using taxpayer dollars to advocate for transgender ideology and the Human Rights Campaign,” Huffines tweeted on Tuesday. “Our campaign made him stop. I will never back down in the fight for Texas.”

“We’re just getting started,” Huffines added.

Abbott has made clear he’s willing to do whatever it takes to keep up.





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