Houston area school districts respond to federal transgender bathroom policy
HOUSTON – Mind your own business.
That’s the message some local parents had for President Barack Obama in the wake of his directive that orders public schools across the country to let transgender students use the bathroom and locker room that matches their gender identity.
“You should go in the restroom that is in your birth certificate. It's just not right and it's just not safe,” said Donald Sims.
Supporters of the directive firmly disagree.
“I think this a watershed moment for us. I think this is groundbreaking,” Lou Weaver said.
Weaver is the transgender program's coordinator for Equality Texas. He said all students need to feel safe and protected at school, in an environment free from discrimination.
“To think a transgender child is going to be a bully or a predator is just not OK. They are a child who wants to go to school and get an education and concentrate on the same things that the kids who are non-transgender concentrate on,” Weaver said.
Don’t do it. That’s the message Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick had for district superintendents across the state.
“Stand up against the federal government. Stand up for the families and the school boards. Stand up for the people that elected you. You don't have to enact it now and you don't have to enact it in the fall,” Patrick said.
The administration’s directive is not a legal requirement but those districts who fail to follow the guideline are at risk of losing billions of dollars in federal money that schools heavily rely on. HISD released a statement that said, in part, "Although HISD policy does not specifically address the issue of student restroom access, HISD Board policy does expressly prohibit discrimination, including harassment and retaliation, against any student on the basis of gender …"
Cliff Hodrick said he’s tired of hearing about the issue.
“There's a lot of bigger problems we need to deal with right (now) and I think this has been blown out of proportion,” Hodrick said.
The Houston Independent School District released a statement Friday saying they respect student rights. Though they do not have a bathroom policy, campus administrators are "counseled to make accommodations."
The statement reads in full:
"The Houston Independent School District recognizes and respects each student’s right to an education experience that is free from discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Although HISD policy does not specifically address the issue of student restroom access, HISD Board policy does expressly prohibit discrimination, including harassment and retaliation, against any student on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression, or on any other basis prohibited by law. When restroom access questions arise, campus administrators are counseled to make accommodations that are aligned with the letter and spirit of the district's policy prohibiting student discrimination, harassment and retaliation."
Katy ISD released this statement:
"Our school district was not forewarned about the president’s executive order. We are currently consulting with our school attorneys for further guidance on what, if any, immediate action is required. In the meantime, in Katy ISD continues to work with students on a case by case basis to offer privacy options as needed as we believe every student has the right to learn in a safe and orderly learning environment."
Cypress-Fairbanks ISD released this statement:
"We do not have a specific policy addressing bathroom use by transgender students. We have nondiscrimination policies in place for all students, and, as with all requests for modification or accommodation, we make case-by-case decisions for each student based upon the situation."