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• Beto O’Rourke was not describing his own plan. He was referring to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s order to state officials to investigate parents for child abuse for providing gender-affirming care for transgender children.
An excerpt from a longer interview with Democratic Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke was taken out of context and misconstrued by a conservative pundit.
The video, which was posted on Rumble, was shared on Facebook and flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
But in the clip, O’Rourke was not describing his own plan — he was referring to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s February order to state officials to investigate parents for child abuse for providing gender-affirming care for transgender children. The video excerpt omitted that context.
The footage was taken from an hour-long interview with O’Rourke on March 13 during the South by Southwest festival. At the 14:26 mark, interviewer Evan Smith — chief executive of The Texas Tribune — asked O’Rourke to "make the case against the governor."
O’Rourke called Abbott a thug and listed what he considers to be the governor’s mistakes, including February 2021 statewide blackouts.
Two minutes into his lengthy answer, O’Rourke also said, "He’s targeting transgender kids and turning in their parents, and if these investigations are succesful, not only is that transgender child taken from the custody of that parent, but so is every other kid in the household. That’s what this guy is doing."
The clip on Facebook begins after O’Rourke has been answering the question for more than a minute and does not include the fact that he is referencing Abbott.
Abbot’s order to Texas state health agencies claimed that it is illegal to provide treatments such as gender reassignment surgery and puberty-blocking drugs for transgender children. Abbott based the order on a nonbinding legal opinion from the state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, who is running for reelection.
The order "stipulated that doctors, nurses and teachers are legally now required to report parents who aid their child in receiving such care to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services," the Washington Post reported.
A Texas judge "temporarily halted the investigations until a trial can be held in July, calling Abbott's actions ‘beyond the scope of his duty and unconstitutional,’" according to The Texas Tribune. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also issued a statement that said denying health care based on gender identity is illegal.
Though O’Rourke said that a successful investigation could lead to transgender children and their siblings being removed from their home, "most families that (Department of Family and Protective Services) investigates do not end up having their children removed from their custody or placed in foster care, which requires a judicial order," The Texas Tribune reported.
The headline on a 44-second video clip says, "Beto O'Rourke's Plan to Take 'Trans' Children from Parents."
In the clip, O’Rourke was not describing his own plan. The footage was taken from an hour-long interview and omitted the fact that O’Rourke was referring to Abbott.
O’Rourke was referencing Abbott’s order to state child welfare officials to investigate parents for child abuse if they provide gender-affirming care for transgender children.
We rate this claim False.
Ballotpedia, "Beto O'Rourke," accessed March 16, 2022
Gov. Greg Abbott, "Letter," Feb. 22, 2022
PolitiFact, "Charlie Kirk," accessed March 16, 2022
PolitiFact, "Fact-checking Texas Republicans on blackout blame," Feb.18, 2021
PolitiFact, "The Charlie Kirk Show," accessed March 16, 2022
Rumble, "Beto O'Rourke's Plan to Take "Trans" Children from Parents," March 13, 2022
South by Southwest, accessed March 16, 2022
The Texas Tribune, "Evan Smith," accessed March 16, 2022
The Texas Tribune, "Transgender Texas kids are terrified after governor orders that parents be investigated for child abuse," Feb. 28, 2022
The Texas Tribune, "Texas’ child welfare agency ordered to investigate trans kids’ families has been in crisis for years," March 11, 2022
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "Statement by HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra Reaffirming HHS Support and Protection for LGBTQI+ Children and Youth," March 2, 2022
Washington Post, "Texas isn’t the only state denying essential medical care to trans youths. Here’s what’s going on," March 10, 2022
YouTube, "Beto O’Rourke in conversation with Evan Smith," March 13, 2022
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