LGBTQ advocates removed from Texas Capitol as House debates ban on transgender youth healthcare
AUSTIN, Texas - Dozens of LGBTQ advocates were ushered out of the Capitol late Tuesday by DPS.
"Literally the troopers were pushing us, shoving us," said Michelle Venegas-Matula, who opposes the legislation.
Moments before that, inside the House chamber, House Speaker Dade Phelan cleared the gallery after protesters began chanting, just as lawmakers had begun to debate the bill.
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SB 14 would ban trans youth from receiving certain types of gender-affirming medical care, such as puberty blockers and hormone therapy.
"This is taking health care away from children," said Naveen Kundanmal of Equality Texas, who opposes SB 14.
"It's important for me that we don't treat children like adults when they're not adults," said Elizabeth Guillen of North Texas Conservatives, who supports SB 14.
SB 14 has already passed the senate. If it becomes law, it would ban procedures for anyone under 18.
Kundanmal argues that many people are under misconceptions about what treatments like puberty blockers actually do.
"It gives kids a gap year. It gives families a gap year or two for them to take the time to process everything without their bodies going through puberty," said Kundanmal. "They won't have to undo things."
But supporters of SB 14 argue medical intervention isn’t the answer.
"I do have a daughter who has struggled with identity," said Michelle Evans, who supports the bill. "She came to me and asked me to call her by different pronouns, and I said that she is a woman."
Lawmakers ultimately decided to scrap the vote over a parliamentary concern that was raised, that briefly sent the bill back to committee.
Supporters of SB 14 who were cleared from the gallery claim the disruption was coming from anti-SB 14 protesters.
"It was absolutely a one-sided disruption," said Evans. I was called a fascist and a bigot."
But those protesters—transgender Texans and their allies—remained outside, saying they’re not backing down, and insisting they were unfairly removed.
"Noise is noise. There wasn't a reason to push us all the way out," said Sarah Berel-Harrop of the Texas Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry.
"We will be here, and we will not be silenced. Do I like what they're doing? Absolutely not. And we'll just keep showing up," said Rev. Erin Walter, executive director of the UU Justice Ministry.
Tuesday night, House Speaker Dade Phelan tweeted:
"Rules matter in the TX House. Today’s outbursts in the gallery were a breach of decorum & continued after I warned that such behaviors would not be tolerated. There will always be differing perspectives, but in our chamber, we will debate those differences w/ respect."
Protesters tell FOX 7 at least one person was detained by state troopers. FOX 7 reached out to DPS about that, as well as the accusations that unnecessary force was used. As of late Tuesday night, we have not heard back.