AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Friday, members of the Texas House LGBTQ Caucus released a statement responding to the recent allegations that Texas Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen made homophobic comments about a colleague.
Bonnen apologized on Tuesday for the alleged comments, which reportedly occurred during a private meeting between Bonnen and Michael Quinn Sullivan, the leader of the political non-profit Empower Texans.
While the exact alleged comments have not been released, after the two had an argument, Sullivan said he had audio of the conversation.
Multiple lawmakers say they’ve heard the audio and that Bonnen can be heard saying offensive statements against women and LGBTQ members of the Texas House.
In his apology, Bonnen said in part: “You know me well enough to know I say things with no filter. That’s not an excuse for the hurtful things I said or the discussion that was had.”
Members of the Texas House LGBTQ Caucus, however, aren’t feeling so forgiving just yet, saying:
Being Lesbian Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and/or Queer identified is not an insult. It’s who many Texans are. Using our identities as an insult furthers the stigmatization and discrimination of LGBTQ individuals and can be particularly harmful to LGBTQ youth. Youth often internalize the negative attitudes towards LGBTQ communities, and this type of language both contributes to the bullying of LGBTQ youth and the high rates of self-harm reported by LGBTQ youth.
Unfortunately, these types of comments are all too common, and Texas needs leaders to set a higher standard. As leader of the Texas House, Speaker Bonnen has the ability to amplify his voice louder than any other member. This is an opportunity for deep reflection for Speaker Bonnen, and we hope he will acknowledge the harm his anti-LGBTQ comments cause, look critically at his behavior, and commit to doing better in the future.
Incidents like this demonstrate the importance of having an LGTBQ Caucus in the Texas Legislature, and we are committed to working with all lawmakers to increase awareness and create a more inclusive Texas.
KXAN’s political reporter Phil Prazan contributed to this story.