The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has been accused of removing a web page featuring information about a suicide prevention hotline for LGBTQ+ youth after one of Gov. Greg Abbot's primary challengers criticized him for having it up.
Challenger Don Huffines posted a video on Twitter back in August where he accused the child welfare agency of "promoting transgender sexual policies to Texas youth." Hours later, the webpage had been removed, reported the Houston Chronicle.
"These are not Texas values, these are not Republican Party values, but these are obviously Greg Abbott's values," Huffines said.
The website for the Texas Youth Connection, part of Family and Protective Services, was also taken down. The site pointed young people in foster care not only to the resources found on the LGBTQ+ web page but also to housing and education assistance.
In a tweet Tuesday, Huffines boasted about the web page's removal.
"I told Texans I would get this DFPS website taken down and stop Greg Abbott from using our tax dollars to promote transgender ideology," Huffines wrote. He added that the reporting about the removal "shows I kept my promise."
"We're just getting started," he wrote.
While the governor's office declined to comment on the removal of the webpage, public records requests by the Houston Chronicle show the office had discussed the page after Huffines's initial social media post.
A spokesperson for Family and Protective Services, Patrick Crimmins, contacted the person who oversaw the page, Darrell Azar.
"Darrell -- please note we may need to take that page down, or somehow revise content," wrote Crimmins.
"The state is responsible for these kids' lives, yet it intentionally removed a way for them to find help when they need it the most," said Ricardo Martinez, chief executive of advocacy group Equality Texas, according to the Associated Press. "This action is unconscionable, and it reminds us that political aspirations are part of every attack on LGBTQ+ kids in Texas."
Texas has pushed several anti-LGBTQ+ bills this year. One is heading to a final vote soon and would ban trans student athletes from joining sports teams that align with their gender identity.
Earlier this year, Abbott asked the child welfare agency's commissioner to determine if gender affirmation surgery on minors was child abuse. The commissioner released a memo agreeing with Abbott.
LGBTQ+ advocates point out that such surgeries are extremely rare for youth.
The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ+ youth, stated in September that the organization had received more than 4,000 crisis contacts from trans and nonbinary youth in Texas this year. That number is a 150 percent jump from last year.
"The Trevor Project's crisis counselors have been hearing from transgender and nonbinary youth in Texas who are scared and worried about anti-trans laws being debated in their state -- and some have even expressed suicidal thoughts. This is a crisis," the Trevor Project's CEO and executive director, Amit Paley, said in a release at the time.
If you or someone you know needs help or support, the Trevor Project's counselors are available 24/7 at (866) 488-7386, via chat at TheTrevorProject.org/Help, or by texting START to 678678.