Salon Owner Jailed During Pandemic Lockdown Says at Campaign Stop She's 'Not Comfortable' with Trans Kids

Shelley Luther, a former schoolteacher who was celebrated by conservatives for challenging COVID-19 restrictions, is running for office in Texas

Shelley Luther
Photo: LM Otero/AP/Shutterstock

A Texas salon owner, who became an anti-lockdown conservative media star after she was briefly jailed for refusing a court order to close her Dallas business early in the COVID-19 pandemic, is determined to turn the national attention she received nearly two years ago into a political career.

After losing a special election for a state Senate seat in 2020, Shelley Luther is running again — this time to represent House District 62 in northeast Texas — and still stirring up controversy.

At a recent town hall for the Fannin County Republican Party, Luther, a former Spanish teacher, said she was uncomfortable with having transgender students and complained about other kids not being able to make fun of them.

"What we have done is become comfortable with what is okay in our society. I am not comfortable with the transgenders," Luther said from the stage. "The kids that they brought in my classroom, when they said that this kid is transgendering into a different sex, that I couldn't have kids laugh at them."

After a long pause, Luther continued: "Other kids got in trouble for having transgender kids in my class, that's why I'd vote for school choice," she said.

On her campaign website, Luther says, "Parents should also have the freedom to choose the most appropriate type of schooling (homeschool, public, charter or private) for their child without government intrusion."

Luther's comment drew criticism online, including from some social media users who said they lived in Texas and her "pro-bullying" remark didn't represent them.

Shelley Luther
Sergio Flores/Bloomberg via Getty Images

She also supports a ban on gender-affirming surgery for children, likening it to "gender mutilation."

In a statement given to NBC News, Luther said she "respected and supported all students" during her time as a teacher but found it difficult to teach when gender identity came up in her classroom.

"When the center of focus becomes a student and not the actual lesson being taught, it is unfair to the other students," she said. "As a teacher, my goal was to make sure the students, all of them, are learning in a safe environment. Bullying is never acceptable, and did not occur."

Earlier this year, Luther posted a message on Twitter suggesting that Chinese students should not be allowed on Texas' college campuses.

"Chinese students should be BANNED from attending all Texas universities," she said in a tweet that was later deleted. "No more Communists!"

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