Texas Officials Ready For A Fight Over School District’s Trans Policy

Ken Paxton speaks after he was sworn in as the Texas attorney general, Monday, Jan. 5, 2015, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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Both Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) and Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) have now gotten involved in the dustup over one school district’s policy aimed at accommodating transgender students, ramping up state pressure to reverse it.

Patrick on Monday called for Fort Worth school Superintendent Kent Scribner to resign over his decision to allow students to use the bathroom and play on the sports team that corresponds to their gender identity. Patrick criticized Scribner for acting outside of the school board and said the superintendent had put his “political agenda” before students’ needs.

Scribner, who has refused to resign, defended his decision to implement the new policy on Tuesday.

“I’m proud of these guidelines,” he told the Forth Worth Star-Telegram. “I think they provide educators with the ability to make all students more comfortable and confident in a learning environment.”

Scribner said that the policy was approved in 2011, and that he was simply issuing guidelines for teachers in an attempt to clarify the policy, according to the Dallas Morning News.

And Jacinto Ramos, president of the Forth Worth school board, told the Star-Telegram that Scribner sent his proposed policy to the board for review in January. But Paxton sent a letter to Ramos on Tuesday warning him that Scribner’s move violated Texas Education Code.

“The sweeping policy was not adopted by the school board,” Paxton wrote in the letter. “I have strong concern that this policy violates provisions in the Texas Education Code that give parents an unequivocal right to information regarding their children and is motivated by a misguided view of Title IX.”

Paxton also argued that Title IX of the Civil Rights Act does not protect transgender people from discrimination.

“We sincerely hope you will assess these deficiencies in the transgender policy and more as the board deliberates next steps,” Paxton concluded in the letter.

Patrick also traveled to Fort Worth on Tuesday to push for Scribner’s resignation at the district’s administration office, according to the Dallas Morning News. He argued that parents should have been given a chance to offer input on the policy and that the accommodations were unnecessary.

“This is proactive, making special accommodations for students,” he said. “The superintendent is putting the privacy and rights of 78,000 or 79,000 students in the back seat for a few.”

Patrick suggested that the attorney general, Paxton, could take legal action, and himself vowed to “pursue legislative action as appropriate,” according to the Dallas Morning News.

Forth Worth parents also addressed the new policy Tuesday at a school board meeting. Per the Dallas Morning News:

Hundreds showed up to get into the district’s regular Tuesday board meeting as the line wrapped around the building and down the block. Some held signs reading “Trans Rights Matter” while others simply had one word: Repeal.

A majority of the 20 speakers who had a chance to address trustees spoke in favor of the transgender policy. Those who opposed it had dozens of supporters in the room, too.

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