AUSTIN — Amid a nationally known child abuse case in Texas, new emails reveal employees at a state agency overseen by Gov. Greg Abbott discussed whether to promote abusive sexual material on a taxpayer-funded website. 

Texas Scorecard recently reported that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services hosted a webpage dedicated to “helping empower and celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, and non-heterosexual (LGBTQIA+) youth, their peers, and family.”

Prominently featured on the page—which has since been removed—was a video that details how “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” both exist on a spectrum and that children can begin to “express” their identities as early as 3 or 4 years of age. The video teaches ideologies that promote hazardous sexual behaviors and disfiguring experiments on children who pretend to be the opposite biological sex.

On that same webpage is a link to an article on “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Definitions” hosted by the Human Rights Campaign, a pro-LGBT group that has recently campaigned to keep child mutilation operations legal in Texas. 

Furthermore, that link on the publicly funded website sends visitors to a page urging them to donate to the leftist organization. 

The webpage was first exposed six weeks ago by Don Huffines, a former state senator and current Republican candidate for governor, who said Gov. Abbott was allowing the “sick brainwashing of Texas kids.” Abbott appoints the department’s commissioner and the nine-member council who decide their policies. 

“His own political appointees have been participating in it, and now it’s clear his own agency is promoting perverted and damaging ideology on parents and kids,” said Huffines.  

Now, open records originally published by the Houston Chronicle reveal some of what happened at the agency as that situation unfolded. 

Thirteen minutes after Huffines posted a video of the page on social media, DFPS media relations director Marissa Gonzales emailed the link to Patrick Crimmins, the department’s spokesman. The subject line: “Don Huffines video accusing Gov/DFPS of pushing liberal transgender agenda.”

“FYI. This is starting to blow up on Twitter,” wrote Gonzales. 

Crimmins then emailed the department’s web and creative services director, Darrell Azar, asking who oversees the page. 

“Darrell—please note we may need to take that page down, or somehow revise content,” he wrote.

Azar replied the webpage was a part of the department’s Preparation for Adult Living program, which had “content related to LGBTQ for as long as I can remember.” He said the specific webpage exposed by Huffines, however, was “only a few years old.” 

Azar added that all content on the Texas Youth Connection website was approved by Debra Emerson, a longtime employee who serves as the agency’s director of permanency, family, and youth services.

“We aren’t surprised that state employees who are loyal to Greg Abbott had to scramble after we called their perverse actions out,” said Huffines in a statement. “I promised Texans I would get rid of that website and I kept that promise.”

The incident also comes amid a years-long saga to protect children from mutilation procedures, tracing largely back to the high-profile child abuse case of 9-year-old James Younger, a boy from the Dallas area. James’ parents have been entangled in a legal fight after his mother wanted to force him—against his father’s wishes—to take sterilizing drugs and eventually be castrated.  

Texas Scorecard detailed the legislative saga of the issue earlier this year, when the Republican-controlled state Legislature refused to enact protections into law.

Furthermore, Gov. Abbott has also raised many questions this year with his responses and lack of action regarding the Republican priority issue, including refusing to add the child protection law to the legislature’s to-do list in their currently ongoing special sessions.

Jacob Asmussen

Jacob Asmussen is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard. He attended the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and in 2017 earned a double major in public relations and piano performance.