AUSTIN, Texas -- Progressive Texas leaders are trying again to expand protections for the state's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population, but they face steep opposition from conservative groups that are pushing their own set of bills.
• GLSEN found 83 percent of Texas teenagers hear homophobic comments on a regular basis
• Transphobic remarks are almost as prevalent at 73 percent
The efforts come as a majority of LGBT teens in Texas say they are harassed on a daily basis. The newest study by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, or GLSEN, found 83 percent of Texas teenagers hear homophobic comments on a regular basis.
Transphobic remarks are almost as prevalent, at 73 percent, but equally disturbing to Out Youth's Kathryn Gonzales.
"These kind of reports don't surprise me anymore. They still disappoint," said Gonzales.
Gonzales has worked with LGBT teens for 15 years. All the while, she says the statistics don't seem to improve. One concern, the report highlights, is that only five percent of Texas schools have sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression included in their non-discrimination policies.
"At this point, it is hard to say we are at a tipping point on anything when 95 percent of schools don't have a supportive policy," Gonzales said.
State GOP leaders said Wednesday that all versions of a bathroom bill are off the table now. The Legislature convened Tuesday at the State Capitol. However, a couple other bills concern LGBT advocates. One bill would pre-empt local protections that are in place in cities like Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Austin.
"That would gut existing non-discrimination ordinances that protect millions of Texans right now," said Samantha Smoot, Interim Executive Director of Equality Texas.
Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, wants to try again to make crimes against a person based on their gender identity an official hate crime. Efforts since 2007 have failed.
"I think it is important that we protect people who are targeted for violence," he said. "That was the whole idea behind the Hate Crimes Act of Texas."
Coleman's district includes Montrose, a neighborhood that includes many of Houston's LGBT-friendly businesses.
Conservative groups like Texas Values say their focus remains on allowing business owners and others exercise their religious beliefs, and say most of the bills authored by Democrats this session would prevent that.
"The bills that have been filed would punish or criminalize Texans for believing marriage is between a man and a woman, or that sex is determined at birth," said Nicole Hudgens, a Senior Policy Analyst for the organization.
Still, LGBT advocates like Gonzales say teens won't stop being bullied until leaders set an example.