Religious Right Groups Scandalized By Effort To Protect Houston's LGBT Inmates

The Associated Press reported last week on the efforts of Sheriff Adrian Garcia of Harris County, Texas, to prevent violence against the Houston county jail’s estimated 250 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender inmates. The AP notes that while a number of major cities have taken similar steps, Harris County will be the first in Texas to implement such a program.

Naturally, the American Family Association and Eagle Forum are scandalized.

Under the headline, “Deputy, Ronnie is now called Regina: Jail enacts sexual orientation policy,” Charlie Butts, a reporter for the AFA’s OneNewsNow, interviews Texas Eagle Forum president and former Texas Republican Party chairwoman Cathie Adams, who claims that Houston’s mayor Annise Parker – who is openly gay – is behind the new policy.

Adams claims that Parker actually wants to leave LGBT people “more vulnerable to abuse” and that the policy “will eke into the community and set up a very tragic situation.” She suggests instead of allowing transgender people to identify as they choose, that the jail offer conversion therapy to transgender inmates;  Butts claims, “The mental health field has an excellent track record in treating transgendered people to conform to their biological gender.” In fact, major medical groups including the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association oppose the practice of reparative therapy.

Cathie Adams, with Texas Eagle Forum, says Houston is being influenced by its mayor, Annise D. Parker, an open lesbian. The city needs a better role model, she says.

"Not a person who is going to leave them more vulnerable to abuse," says Adams. "And I'm very sorry to say, I think that is exactly what this policy will do, not just in the prison but of course it will eke into the community and set up a very tragic situation."

The policy also suggests that transgendered people can choose between male and female sections of the prison.

Adams calls that allowance "tragic," noting that a "man is born as a man."

Jailers must address the transgendered by their "chosen name" and include it on the bracelet, the AP also reported.

The mental health field has an excellent track record in treating transgendered people to conform to their biological gender. So Adams wonders why, if Houston wants to help jail inmates, they don't offer counseling instead of affirming their gender confusion.

Jailers fall under a "zero tolerance" rule for sexual misconduct or harassment toward LGBT inmates, which could include firing and criminal charges. It was unclear from The Associated Press story if those rules only apply to homosexuals.
 

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