They will lie, they will distort, and they will inflame tensions. Courtesy Facebook

You would think a panel discussion called “Protect Kids” would be about gun violence and how it’s the leading cause of death among Texas children.

Instead, the 10am-noon Saturday event on the Near Southside at Fire Station Community Center (1601 Lipscomb St) will focus on “the impact of LGBT ideology, the social contagion of transgenderism, and the dangers of pornography,” according to hosts LUCA (Latinos United for Conservative Action) and co-hosts Tarrant County Citizens Defending Freedom and Texas Coalition for Children.

“This is a crucial conversation about the cultural revolution happening right now,” LUCA says.

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A local group is pushing back. In a statement, the Justice Network of Tarrant County said Saturday’s LUCA event represents “nothing more than a blatant attempt to heighten fear and spew inaccurate and dangerous information about the transgender community. This can only put the lives of transgender folks, whose safety and security are constantly at risk, in more imminent danger.”

An interfaith collection of more than 20 organizations and 350 faith leaders and individuals “fighting to protect the rights of all human beings and to create a more just and compassionate world,” the Justice Network has called on Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker and City Council to cancel Saturday’s event based on the Fort Worth Park and Recreation Department’s Community Center Policies & Procedures handbook.

Courtesy Justice Network of Tarrant County

“Use of community centers shall not be permitted to groups which practice, profess, or have as their policy (official or unofficial) discrimination against persons on the basis of sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, color, or national origin,” the policy reads. “Nor shall access be permitted to groups affiliated with organizations which practice, profess, or have a policy of such discrimination.”

The policy would seem to rule out all three of Saturday’s speakers.

One of them is MassResistance Texas’ Tracy Shannon. The mother of four “blessings” *gag* who became popular a few years ago by Karening about drag queen story hours across the state, Shannon claims to have “studied” the “trajectory of the transgender movement and transgender medicine” for 20 years. Shannon, who is neither a doctor nor a scientist, says she has “observed a rise in children transitioning and a relaxing of the already loose and unsound ‘standards’ in transgender medicine.”

Another speaker is Jeff Younger, a parents’ rights activist and perennial victim from Flower Mound who created his high profile among right-wingers via unfounded suspicions about one of his children going through gender dysphoria.

Whatever the two transphobes say on Saturday about the alleged dangers of transitioning too young will be opinion, oral tradition, and, no doubt, quasi-Biblical spin. It will not be based on science or data. We know this because there really isn’t any to cite.

There are anecdotes. In February, The New York Times quoted several trans sources saying they regretted their procedures, clearly to manufacture a trend out of only a few perspectives, which may make for good storytelling but not science. An epidemiologist responded by analyzing a sizable chunk of available information here and overseas.

“We don’t have good U.S. data on the number of people who detransition, but other countries have fairly useful recent papers showing that detransition is quite uncommon,” wrote Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz in Slate. “What’s clear from this evidence is that the vast majority of people do not experience regret, howsoever defined, after transitioning genders. … Ultimately, the question of what proportion of kids or adults regret their transition is only important to a select group: the people who want to transition and their clinicians. At worst, the rate of regret is still better than other treatments which don’t require national debates over their use, which really begs the question of why anyone who isn’t directly involved with the treatment of transgender people is even weighing in on the topic at all.”

Shannon and Younger are “weighing in … at all” ostensibly to “Protect Kids” from making a life-altering decision too young, because we all know the best parents are other parents, but in reality, it’s to spread Christian Nationalism. For a welcoming audience that, for a newsworthy change, is not all rich white people, there may be no better place than in cherry-red Fort Worth among a racial minority.

Latinos are the fastest-growing segment of evangelicals in the country. Their “vision,” says one pastor in Long Beach, California, is “to see that the kingdom of God will go forward and reach more people and get into every nook and cranny of society,” including our bedrooms, bathrooms, and public spaces like community centers and the White House. As some of the poorest Americans, Latinos are especially susceptible to religious fervor, which brings with it the possibility of transcending often harsh reality and is driven by rabid pastors selling dreams of pearly gates, billionairehood, and even white-adjacency.

The third speaker is Texas Coalition for Kids’ Kelly Neidert, best known for having her phone taken from her and thrown in the trash at a local school board meeting.

There is little chance Republican Mayor Parker heeds the Justice Network. After Victory Forest Community Center canceled a similar LUCA event last month, she agreed with the Latinos that their First Amendment rights were violated. But, the Justice Network says, “the right to free speech must be weighed against the catastrophic harm that words can do — especially when these words are false, inflammatory, and ignorant.”

Without real-time fact-checking, Saturday’s speakers can say anything they want without fear of reprisal or repercussion and for maximum effect. As we saw on January 6, enthusiastically if awkwardly phrased lies spewed like so much vomit after an Adderall-and-Diet-Coke bender can have deadly real-world ramifications. Unless the City of Fort Worth wants a lawsuit on its hands — or worse — the least Mayor Parker and company can do is tell LUCA to take their hatred away from public land and into a private setting. A restaurant maybe. Or a church. And that it should stay there — for good.


This column reflects the opinions of the editorial board and not the Fort Worth Weekly. To submit a column, please email Editor Anthony Mariani at He will gently edit it for clarity and concision.