Metro Weekly

Republican candidate: “I’m not comfortable with the transgenders”

Shelley Luther, a candidate for the Texas House of Representatives, trans children in classrooms is why she supports "school choice."

Texas State House Republican candidate Shelley Luther – Photo: Facebook.

A Republican candidate running for a seat in the Texas State House of Representatives recently complained that, when she was a teacher, she had not been allowed to let her students “laugh at” transgender classmates.

Shelley Luther, a hair salon owner who previously worked as a Spanish-language teacher in public schools for more than a decade, made the comments last Saturday during a candidate forum in northeast Texas.

Luther, who is challenging Republican State Rep. Reggie Smith in the March 1 primary election to represent one of the state’s most conservative districts, said transgender people make her uncomfortable and lamented the idea that students who harass, tease, or make fun of their transgender peers might be disciplined in public schools.

“I’m not comfortable with the transgenders,” Luther told the audience of Republican voters. “The kids they brought in my classroom, when they said that this kid is transgendering into a different sex, that I couldn’t have kids laugh at them … like, other kids got in trouble for having transgender kids in my class.”

Her comments were captured on video and shared to Twitter by the Houston Chronicle newspaper.

 

Luther, who was answering a question about how she would enact conservative priorities in the Legislature, cited the presence of transgender children in public schools as a reason she supports “school choice,” an umbrella term for the idea that taxpayers in a school district should foot the bill to send students whose parents object to their educational situation — for any number of reasons — to charter, private, or religious schools, or, in some cases, public schools in other nearby districts.

Equality Texas, the Lone Star State’s top LGBTQ rights advocacy organization, blasted Luther’s comments, with the group’s CEO, Ricardo Martinez, saying all Texas school children should “feel a sense of belonging in school so they can focus on academic success.”

“Lamenting not being able to allow students to laugh at, bully and harass transgender kids isn’t leadership, it’s cruelty plain and simple,” Martinez said. “All children in Texas are guaranteed a public education under the constitution, deserve privacy and the ability to learn in a safe environment.”

Following the backlash to her comments, Luther told the Chronicle that she “respected and supported all students in my classroom” but claimed it became hard for her to teach because “the topic of gender transition became the top discussion every day in my classroom.”

“When the center of focus becomes a student and not the actual lesson being taught, it is unfair to the other students,” she said. “We should focus more on learning instead of arguing about which bathroom someone should use.”

She added that bullying is “never acceptable, and did not occur” in her classroom.

On her campaign website, Luther lists abolishing “gender mutilation in children” as one of her top priorities — a “buzz word” used by social conservatives to describe gender confirmation surgery, which is rarely performed on youths.

“Right now, it is legal in Texas to chemically and surgically castrate a child,” Luther’s website reads. “The Texas legislators had the opportunity to ban this in the last session, but refused to do so. I will fight for Texas’ children.”

The bill to which Luther appears to be referring was a measure that would have outlawed transgender children from receiving gender-affirming treatments, such as puberty blockers or hormones, to assist in a gender transition, and jailed or revoked the licenses of doctors who prescribe such treatments.

However, Texas’ bill would have continued to allow doctors to prescribe unnecessary genital surgeries on intersex children in order to forcibly socialize them as either “male” or “female” — a hypocritical stance taken by opponents of transgender identity that is rarely pointed out by mainstream media outlets.

That practice is banned in several countries, and has been labeled as “tantamount to torture” by the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Torture.

This isn’t the first time that Luther has courted controversy. Last month, she tweeted that Chinese nationals should be prohibited from enrolling in Texas universities on the grounds that they will “obtain classified information, steal technology, and essentially learn how to defeat the United States.”

Although the tweet was deleted, her website reiterates the same position, stating that Texas should also prohibit Chinese-owned companies from buying land, especially next to Texas’ power grid — which has its own problems because of politicians’ refusal to invest in and regulators’ laxness in overseeing the winterization of natural gas facilities in the state.

Luther previously garnered national attention in May 2020 when she defied emergency orders to shut down her Dallas salon amid the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. She was sentenced to a week in jail, and released after two days — solidifying her reputation as a hero to lockdown opponents.

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