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Op-Ed

‘Texas values’ today: Pick on orphans and gay kids

October 22, 2021

Governor Greg Abbott and his lunatic right-wing primary challenger have decided that the route to office in Texas today is to pick on children, orphans and gay teenagers contemplating suicide.

Robert Kahn

By Robert Kahn

Deputy editor emeritus, Courthouse News

One person died by suicide in Texas every two hours in 2019, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), “which oversees suicide prevention in the state, found that since 2000, Texas has seen an overall increase in suicide mortality of 36%,” according to a February 2021 report from The Center Square, a self-described conservative news website.

“The rate of suicide mortality in women increased by 50% from 2000 to 2020, HHSC reports, and the rate of high school males who attempted suicide more than doubled. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for individuals between ages 15 and 34 years old in Texas,” according to The Center Square.

That report added: “Suicide rates in Texas increased by 18.9% from 1999 to early 2020, the CDC reports. But the HHSC found this increase to be significantly higher.”

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission webpage is opaque on the subject of suicide; the HHSC brushed off my inquiries.

The American Journal of Preventive Medicine reported in February 2019 that lesbian, gay and bisexual young people are five times more likely to attempt suicide than straight youths, indicating “a need to conduct suicide prevention activities across age groups, including youth.”

The study analyzed more than 120,000 suicide deaths of people 15 and older in 18 states from 2003 to 2014, according to a March 2019 report from NBC News.

More than twice as many people died by suicide in Texas in 2017 than in alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents, according to the AFSP.

And how did Texas Gov. Greg Abbott respond to this? Two weeks ago he took offline a state website that offered help to homosexual young people who were contemplating suicide.

Why would Abbott do such a thing?

He did it because another ignorant and vicious right-wing politician — Abbott’s primary challenger — accused Hizzoner of “promoting transgender sexual policies to Texas youth.” That is: a state-sponsored suicide hotline was pandering to homosexuals. And youth.

“These are not Texas values, these are not Republican Party values, but these are obviously Greg Abbott’s values,” real estate developer Don Huffines said in a video that quickly went viral on Twitter. “That’s why we need a change. That’s what my campaign is about,” said Huffines, who represented the Dallas-Fort Worth area in the state Senate from 2015 to 2019.

The Houston Chronicle subsequently reported: “The webpage published by the Department of Family and Protective Services linked to a suicide prevention hotline and other resources ‘dedicated to helping empower and celebrate’ young LGBTQ people.

“Within hours, the webpage was gone.

“So was the entire website for the Texas Youth Connection, a division of Family and Protective Services that steers young people to various resources, including education, housing and those on its LGBTQ page as they prepare for life after foster care.”

Orphans, and children who have been in foster care, are even more likely to kill themselves, or try to, numerous studies have shown.

So now we know where Abbott’s sympathies lie, if he even knows what sympathy means, or ever felt it for anyone other than himself, or is capable of it:

Not with Texas, or children, or young people, orphans, but solely with Greg Abbott’s chances in the next election, running on what I call the “Go ahead and kill yourself, gay guys” platform.

That’s “cancel culture” with a vengeance.

Abbott did not reply to The New York Times’ request for comment, so I didn’t bother to call him.

I did try to contact Huffines, though.

No one answered calls to his real estate development company in Dallas.

His “Huffines for Governor” website (“Husband. Father. Patriot.”) does not include a phone number, which seems unusual in someone running for office.

I refused to join Facebook to send him a question, or “Join Me [Him]” by sending him my email address.

His campaign website states, inter alia, (trying to keep the words small for you, Mr. Huffines): “The blue wave election of 2018 resulted in Democrats taking virtually all of Dallas County, including Don’s seat in the Texas Senate. Nevertheless, Don remained determined to intensify the fight against harmful left-wing policies statewide and in the governor’s office.”

Excuse me?

Left-wing policies in Greg Abbott’s office?

The governor who offers a $10,000 bounty for anyone who informs on any woman who seeks an abortion in Texas? And her doctor?

Abbott? Whose party has introduced more anti-gay legislation in the past year — particularly targeting young people and school boards — than any other three states combined? (I stopped counting after 27.)

Pardon me while I clutch my breast and die.

So, Abbott, unhinged, and his no-hinges-at all primary challenger think the way to office today in big, strong, brave Texas is to pick on children, gay teenagers and orphans. Anything to propel them onto the next rung on their greasy, pathetic ladders.

I guess those are “Texas values” today.


If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources.

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