Newly crowned Miss Texas speaks out on gun laws and reproductive rights
The new Miss Texas, Averie Bishop, has strong views on guns, education and reproductive rights. Bishop sat down with KERA's Bekah Morr to talk about what it means to be the first Asian American Texan to hold the title, and her priorities during her year-long tenure.
Duties and responsibilities of Miss Texas:
Averie Bishop said her year of service includes work within schools.
"Texas Cares for Children allows me to go into Title one schools and provide mentorship and educational resources at very low or no cost at all to the students and teachers," Bishop said. "Additionally, I work to expand my own social platform, which is Y'all Means All."
Bishop said the mission is to make sure every Texan feels at home here.
"I grew up in a really small town," she said. "I was the only person that looks the way that I did for almost 14 years, and I convinced myself for the longest time that I did not deserve to take up space, that I did not deserve to use my voice, that I did not deserve to be a Texan and to live here. All of these things I convinced myself of because I didn't see anybody in places I wanted to be in. And when young children can see a reflection of who they are in places they want to be, we are encouraged and empowered to take big risks and pursue those aspirations and dreams."
Stricter gun laws:
"When it comes to gun rights, I have lived in a classroom for the past two decades," Bishop said. "I know what it's like to fear for my own safety and for the safety of my colleagues and my professors. I know what it's like to choose the seat furthest away from an open door.
At least the bare minimum is to eliminate a particular weapon that is often used in many of these school shootings, and that is typically the AR-15. My brother served in the military and he and I talk about access to weapons all the time. My family are all legal gun owners and I know how to shoot and use a weapon. But more importantly, I know when it does not need to be used and does not need to be accessed. [The AR-15] does not need to be used."
Reproductive health care & sex education:
Bishop said she's also a strong advocate for making sure people can make educated choices about their bodies.
"When we talk about abortion, when we talk about reproductive health, we talk about women's rights," she said. "It's so difficult to enact the change we want to see across the country, across our state."
With Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization effectively eliminating access to abortion in Texas, Bishop said she hopes to see the state approach the root cause of unplanned pregnancies.
"At the end of the day, it's just access to birth control, comprehensive sexual education for all," she said. "If they continue to, for example, ban abortion, we would want everyone to be equipped to make smart decisions for their bodies because we don't know where the future lies. We don't know how the Supreme Court is going to continue to rule on these cases. So I truly hope that in all of the red states that are typically conservative leaning, we provide comprehensive, medically accurate sexual education."
Bishop said once her year of service as Miss Texas is over, she's considering running for public office.
"What I'd love to do is go write policy in Washington D.C. for a year or two or just dive head first in running for office here in a local city, perhaps?" she said. "Maybe McKinney, like where I was born. I think we need to have very young, diverse voices just simply running. We don't have to win, okay? You don't need to win to make the difference. Just run for office."
Bishop said she agrees we need more representation across gender.
"But we also need more representation across age," she said. "So we got to do it. We've got to get to work. Let's go."