New Transgender Policy at TX School District Draws Line to Meeting ‘As Far as the Eye Can See’

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is calling the new guidelines "a violation of the law."

By Austin Roscoe Published on May 12, 2016

The Fort Worth Independent School District’s (FWISD) regular board meeting went into overflow Tuesday night as hundreds gathered to discuss the district’s recently — and quietly — adopted “Transgender Student Guidelines.”

The new policy allows a student to use the restrooms and participate in the sports that are “consistent with his or her gender identity.” In addition, teachers are instructed to abandon “gender references” and to keep “a student’s actual or perceived gender identity and expression private” — even from the student’s parents.

Though the new guidelines were not formally included in the evening’s agenda, both protesters and advocates converged to take a stand during the public comment period. Many supporters of the measure wore red at the request of LGBT advancement group Fairness Fort Worth.

Each side of the argument was represented with roughly the same number of speakers, though some have reported that proponents of the measure received slightly louder applause. Police had to help clear the board room at the conclusion of the meeting, when parts of the crowd began to chant.

At a press event before the board’s meeting, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called for the resignation of District Superintendent Dr. Kent Scribner, and singled out the privacy component of the new guidelines, which would allow schools to keep parents in the dark if a son or daughter decided to go transgender at school. Patrick described the privacy element as “a violation of the law.” He explained:

The Texas Education Code 26.008 makes no doubt that students cannot keep their parents out of information about their activities in school. Parents have a right to know — unless there is some type of abuse, or danger at home. In that case, it’s not up to the school to decide that, they turn that over to the police — to authorities to investigate.

Two proponents of the measure, former Fort Worth councilman Joel Burns and Equality Texas chief Steve Rudner, held their own pre-emptive news conference, bashing Patrick for getting involved in the matter. The two called Patrick a bully, and accused him of putting on a “fake outrage” for his own political gain.

Patrick noted during his address that he had served as the state’s chair of education and spent eight years in the field. “Everyone in the capitol knows public education is my passion,” Patrick said, “because the future of Texas, and the future of every child, depends on quality education.”

For more information about the FWISD’s “Transgender Guidlines,” read The Stream’s previous article about the growing controversy here. The full text of the new guidelines is here.

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