By Iliana Flores-Dumond
The 88th legislative session may have ended in May, but the need for young people to join the fight for our rights is ongoing. Young people and their communities worked together to support honest, inclusive education, life-saving healthcare, and basic human rights for immigrants all session long. We faced wins and losses in the halls of the Capitol, but in all these key areas, young people are continuing to work toward a better Texas. Below are some next steps for each of these key policy areas.
- HB 900 passed, giving the state more power to ban books based on vague standards that have been used to target marginalized communities. Districts, librarians, and teachers are NOT required to change their policies or attempt to rate books at this time. Keep tracking our book ban action center to find actions to support the right to read.
- SB 14 passed, banning gender affirming care for minors, and as a result limiting healthcare access for LGBTQ+ adults in the state. This bill will not go into effect until September 1, and LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations such as the ACLU and Lambda Legal have pledged to continue the fight in the courts. Our partners at Equality Texas have many action opportunities available to continue the fight for LGBTQ+ rights, as well as many amazing resources regarding LGBTQ+ mental health, education, and fellowships.
- HB 7, died, meaning that a proposed mandate to criminalize and incarcerate Black and Brown migrants and further militarize border communities failed to pass! However, border communities and immigrants in Texas still need your continued support. Follow our partners at the Texas Civil Rights Project and our immigration newsletter for more updates.
- HB 12 passed, extending the duration of Medicaid coverage for mothers from two months to one year. This is a monumental win for expanding healthcare access in the state, and a top recommendation for helping to make progress in maternal mortality and morbidity rates in Texas, especially for our black moms. Now that this bill has become law, it’s important to stay informed about Medicaid policies, such as enrollment deadlines and qualifications.
- HB 2647 died, meaning that the policy of selecting a non-voting student member to serve on the school board was not made into law. However, there is nothing preventing school boards from having a student representative. Participate in your local school board meetings, speak out on the issues in your schools you care about, and show your community that students belong in spaces where decisions are made.
We must continue to work toward creating a better Texas for everyone, and just like so many moments in history, the youth are at the forefront of this positive change.
While the regular session has ended, the Governor has made it clear that he intends to call several special sessions during the interim to address key issues like property taxes, border security, and school choice. It is hard to guess what bills might come up during those special sessions, but one thing we know for sure is that advocates, young people, and constituents everywhere will not give up. No matter what issues come up during special session, we will continue to work toward a more equitable, inclusive, fair Texas for everyone.
Young Texans made their voices clear this session. They showed up at the Capitol time and time again to advocate for academic freedom, affordable and accessible healthcare, and positive changes to our immigration system. They will not forget that lawmakers ignored their voices. We are the moment, and the movement. The youth are powerful, persistent, and resilient, and they are here to stay. While this session is over, the issues that the bills above address impact the lives of Texans every day. We must continue to work toward creating a better Texas for everyone, and just like so many moments in history, the youth are at the forefront of this positive change.
Youth Civic Education and Engagement Intern, Children’s Defense Fund – Texas