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Why perpetuate ‘the big lie’?

Why are local Texas legislators Sens. Jane Nelson and Drew Springer and Reps. Tan Parker and Jared Patterson sponsoring voter suppression bills like SB 7 and HB 6? Why, for example, target disabled voters by requiring submission of proof of disability?

Isn’t life difficult enough for them? And why possibly penalize someone who is helping them?

And what’s the problem with curbside voting if someone unable to stand for any length of time without pain wishes to vote?

These bills are proposed in the guise of “election integrity” and “prevention of fraud in the conduct of an election,” but these legislators know better; there is no large body of evidence (of fraud) at the national, state or local level that has significantly impacted the outcome of an election. Why are they perpetuating “the big lie”?

The local Texas legislators sponsoring these restrictive bills know that numerous elections officials across the U.S. have voiced confidence in electoral results and proven that voting results have been legitimate. For the same reasons, many court cases filed citing voting irregularities have not been allowed to move forward.

It makes no sense to advocate for bills like HB 6 and SB 7; last November the number of Texas voters increased by over 7% from 2016.

The foundation of our precious democracy is equal access to voting. Call, email or write your legislators and let them know Texas doesn’t need to make laws limiting the right to vote.

Please let your voice be heard; tell them “vote no”!

Judy Giese,

Denton

Keeping mother and child together

As a social work student, I am mortified that in the majority of cases, women who give birth while incarcerated only have a maximum of two days with their child until the child is taken away. This takes away the option that the child can be breastfed and nurtured by their biological mother.

It has been proven that the first two years of a child’s life are especially important to their development. Only 11 states have programs that allow the child to live in the prison with the mother. Ripping a mother away from her child and shipping her back to a prison cell increases the chances that she will experience postpartum depression.

Programs as these should not be a luck of the draw. Every women’s prison should have a nursery program. I believe that there should be criteria that should be met such as nonviolent offenders only and the inmate is not a flight risk. These programs should only be allowed to women who have less than five years left on their sentence, and the child should be allowed to stay with the mother until they are at least 5 years old. The programs should teach mothers how to breastfeed, change diapers, how to soothe their child and how to properly parent all around.

Let’s normalize keeping a child with their mother as long as the child is safe.

Semone Simmons,

Denton

Fight for equality

During the pandemic, we lost control.

Out of fear for our safety, everyday liberties were denied from us. As humans, we united over a shared experience — helplessness.

Texas is in the process of considering House Bill 2693 and Senate Bill 1311, which would deny transgender youth access to gender-affirming health care.

And that’s not all.

House Bill 68 would classify gender-affirming health care as child abuse. Senate Bill 373 would force transgender children to participate in sports that contradict with their gender identity.

As transgender youth watch these bills approach governmental approval, they experience a feeling that is far too familiar for us all — helplessness. The difference this time? We have the power to make a change.

As allies to the LGBT+ community, we cannot turn a blind eye to these bills. It is our responsibility to fight for equality. We must contest this legislation and hold our elected officials responsible in every way possible. We must be the ones to take control.

Audrey Gates,

Denton

Whistleblowers are essential

On March 31, former intelligence analyst Daniel Hale pleaded guilty to one charge of violating the Espionage Act of 1917, becoming the first person to be sentenced for whistleblowing under the Biden administration. Absent a change, he won’t be the last.

Hale was prosecuted by the Trump administration for leaking information that revealed key details of the U.S. drone program, including its stunningly lax targeting criteria, which had no real safeguards to prevent attacks on civilians. Although the policy response to his revelations was lacking — the Obama administration began reporting civilian drone deaths, then Trump reversed the move — Hale helped ensure these abusive government practices were entered into the public record, giving some small hope for future change.

I’ve written before about the importance of whistleblowers like Hale — including Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and Reality Winner, who’s being held at the FMC Carswell federal prison in Fort Worth — and how they help hold the powerful to account by revealing their hidden crimes. In this sense, whistleblowers are essential to functioning democracies.

And we’re going to need them more than ever in the years ahead. A week before Hale’s plea, multiple members of the Senate Armed Services Committee expressed interest in handing the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command more expansive surveillance powers on national security grounds. This will surely lead to future abuses of power. If President Biden doesn’t reverse course now and end Espionage Act prosecutions of whistleblowers, those abuses may never come to light.

Benjamin Smith,

Denton

SB 29 is an attack on trans youth

As a social work student and a transgender person, I am concerned about the current legislation taking place across multiple states that attack transgender people, specifically transgender youth.

In Texas, Senate Bill 29 will require that “public school students to compete in interscholastic athletic competitions based on biological sex.” This means that transgender students in public schools would not be able to participate and compete on sports teams that do not match their sex at birth. The argument for this discriminatory legislation is that transgender females would have an unfair advantage due to their natural production of the hormone testosterone.

This is a false narrative, though. A research study, Sport and Transgender People: A Systematic Review of the Literature Relating to Sport Participation and Competitive Sport Policies, found that “there is no direct or consistent research suggesting transgender female individuals (or male individuals) have an athletic advantage at any stage of their transition.” Due to these findings, I believe the claim that transgender people competing on teams that match their gender identity will be unfair to cisgender athletes is insubstantial and transphobic.

Bills like Senate Bill 29 should not be able to pass into law, and if they do, they could harm our transgender youth by forcing them to either give up the sport they love or play on a team that does not fit their gender identity.

Micah McDaniel,

Denton

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