Dozens of companies, including Apple, Google, Meta, IBM, IKEA, Microsoft and Ben & Jerry’s, have signed a letter that also appeared as an advertisement in The Dallas Morning News to criticize and call for an end to the “anti-LGBTQ+ efforts” of Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
Late last month and earlier this month, Abbott told the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to begin investigating parents of transgender children who receive some sex-change procedures for child abuse, which has led to widespread criticism as several investigations have been opened by the department.
“The recent attempt to criminalize a parent for helping their transgender child access medically necessary, age-appropriate healthcare in the state of Texas goes against the values of our companies,” the letter with the title “Discrimination Is Bad for Business” reads. “This policy creates fear for employees and their families, especially those with transgender children, who might now be faced with choosing to provide the best possible medical care for their children but risk having those children removed by child protective services for doing so.
“It is only one of several efforts discriminating against transgender youth that are advancing across the country. We call on our public leaders—in Texas and across the country—to abandon efforts to write discrimination into law and policy. It’s not just wrong, it has an impact on our employees, our customers, their families, and our work.”
Last month, it was reported that one family under investigation by DFPS for having a transgender son had previously invited Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and his wife to their home in 2016 for dinner after he led an effort to block a federal order that would allow children in schools to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity.
Amber Briggle told The Texas Tribune that in 2016, Paxton seemed to have a fine time meeting her family but called it “shameful” that years later he is now leading the effort that some have said makes clear that transgender children are not welcome in Texas.
In February, Paxton issued a legal opinion labeling certain types of gender-affirming care for transgender children as child abuse in response to an inquiry from the Texas House of Representatives, which had failed to pass a bill to criminalize the treatments. Certain treatments can cause “mental or emotional injury to a child that results in an observable and material impairment in the child’s growth, development, or psychological functioning,” Paxton concluded.
In the weeks since the orders from Paxton and Abbott, several district attorneys in some of the largest counties in Texas criticized the decisions and said that they will ignore them and not prosecute parents.
“There is no other way to say it—this is a frightening time for Texas families. Texas state leaders are forcing parents of transgender kids to decide between abandoning their lives, quitting their jobs, and leaving the state or fostering a safe, inclusive environment for their child,” said Joni Madison, interim president of the Human Rights Campaign, which organized the letter released Friday.
“These businesses recognize this unfair ultimatum and are advocating for their LGBTQ+ employees, customers, and their families. Over 60 businesses that do business in Texas are explicitly sending a message to Governor Abbott and Texas public officials that these hateful, harmful actions will not be tolerated. Parents are against them, the public is against them, the medical community is against them, and now it is clear that business leaders are against these policies.”
Capital One, Dropbox, PayPal, Pinterest, Yelp, Yahoo, Patagonia and Johnson & Johnson are others among the over 60 companies that signed the letter.
Update 3/11/22, 3: 30 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with additional information and context.