Texas AG Ken Paxton says Austin schools' Pride Week is "immoral" and "illegal"

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Tuesday accused the Austin Independent School District of violating state law

By Jon Skolnik

Published March 25, 2022 1:20PM (EDT)

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton | Pride Parade (Photo illustration by Salon/Emil Lippe for The Washington Post/Piotr Lapinski/NurPhoto/Getty Images)
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton | Pride Parade (Photo illustration by Salon/Emil Lippe for The Washington Post/Piotr Lapinski/NurPhoto/Getty Images)

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Tuesday accused the Austin Independent School District of violating state law for holding Pride Week activities, claiming that celebration constitutes "sex education."

"Liberal school districts are aggressively pushing LGBTQ+ views on Texas Kids!" Paxton wrote on Tuesday night over Twitter, attaching his letter to the school district.

In his missive, penned on Tuesday, the attorney general claimed that "the Texas Legislature has made it clear that when it comes to sex education, parents – not school districts – are in charge."

"By hosting 'Pride week', your district has, at best, undertaken a week-long instructional effort in human sexuality without parental consent," Paxton continued. "Or, worse, your district is cynically pushing a week-long indoctrination of your students that not only fails to obtain parental consent, but subtly cuts parents out of the loop. Either way, you are breaking state law."

RELATED: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott directs state agencies to investigate trans youth for child abuse

The district's superintendent, Stephanie Elizalde, immediately defended the celebration, tweeting: "I want all our LGBTQIA+ students to know that we are proud of them and that we will protect them against political attacks."


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District spokesperson Jason Stanford likewise told The Washington Post that the district would be "doubling down on making sure our kids feel safe and celebrating Pride."

"This is not a parental rights issue," Stanford explained. "This is a Ken Paxton trying to score political points issue."

The back-and-forth comes amid heightened tensions as this year's Pride Week in Austin approaches its final day, according to The Austin American-Statesman. This week, Doss Elementary School teachers received a wave of death threats over the celebrations, causing administrators to move the festivities indoors with police present. 

Paxton's letter marks the second instance in recent weeks that state Republicans have targeted the state's residents on LGBTQ+ issues. Last month, Texas Gov. Greg Abbot issued a policy that compelled state agencies to investigate gender-affirming as "child abuse," a move that has since been temporarily blocked by a judge. 

Despite the controversial nature of the state's LGBTQ+ agenda, Abbott's administration has argued that it's widely popular amongst the governor's base. Earlier this month, a senior advisor to Abbott told the Post that Abbott's policy on gender-affirming care "is a 75-80% winner."

RELATED: At one Texas school, LGBTQ teens call onslaught of hostile laws "matter of life and death"

Still, 63% of Texans writ large believe that the state should not intervene in gender-affirming care, according to the Data for Progress.


Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik is a staff writer at Salon. His work has appeared in Current Affairs, The Baffler, and The New York Daily News.

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Anti-lgbt Greg Abbott Ken Paxton Pride Week Texas War On Public Schools