Click here to view this article on the Statesman – February 23, 2017
About 100 people are currently in front of the Texas governor’s mansion, at 1010 Colorado St., as part of the “Queer Dance Freakout.”
The event, which lasts until 9 p.m., is part gay pride celebration and part protest. Those in attendance showed up to take issue with the state’s proposed transgender bathroom bill, state lawmakers’ efforts to limit same-sex spousal benefits and recent federal immigration arrests.
Some of those at the governor’s mansion are dressed in colorful neon and animal-print clothes, dancing and grinning as music blasts outside the mansion’s gates.
“More so than a protest, this is a celebration of the queer community,” Jeremy Von Stilb, 33, said. “We want to build closer bonds as we realize what the next steps need to be to fight the laws coming up in the legislature. Austin should know the queer community is going to show up where needed, and we’re going to stand up for our transgender friends and immigrant rights. We believe in equality for all.”
Earlier Thursday, about 50 people congregated in front of the Capitol to protest a recent move by the White House to axe guidelines protecting transgender children’s bathroom access in public schools. Several of the protesters at the rally said they came in support of a specific transgender child in their lives, who would need adults’ help to testify against this decision and others.
“We now have a president who is not supportive of the fair and equal treatment of transgender kids — that’s the bad news,” said CEO Chuck Smith of Equality Texas, one of the LGBT groups who organized the rally.
On Wednesday, administration officials announced they would rescind guidelines established under President Barack Obama that directed public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom coinciding with their gender identity in compliance with Title IX, a federal law banning discrimination on the basis of sex. Obama’s guidelines were established in May 2016.
Smith also said the rally was meant to protest Texas’s Senate Bill 6, also known as the transgender bathroom bill. It would ban public schools and government buildings from allowing transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. It also would overturn city and county ordinances that require transgender-friendly bathrooms, although businesses would be free to adopt transgender bathroom policies.
The Statesman shot live video of the Queer Dance Freakout: Click here to view the video on the Statesman article.