Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton sent a letter to the Austin Independent School District (AISD) on Tuesday to inform the superintendent that its schools were in violation of state law over its “Pride Week” curriculum.
“The Texas Legislature has made it clear that when it comes to sex education, parents—not school districts—are in charge,” Paxton wrote in the letter.
“By hosting ‘Pride Week,’ your district has, at best, undertaken a week-long instructional effort in human sexuality without parental consent. Or, worse, your district is cynically pushing a week-long indoctrination of your students that not only fails to obtain parental consent, but subtly cuts parents out of the loop. Either way, you are breaking state law,” he added.
Paxton also wrote that the violation of state law opens the school district up to “grievances” from objecting parents that could come in the form of lawsuits.
“Based on your violation, objecting parents can file grievances with your school board pursuant to the grievance policy your district is required to maintain,” he wrote.
Today, I sent a letter to @AustinISD for their curriculum and lesson plans that constitute “human sexuality instruction” governed by state law.
The Texas Legislature has made it clear that when it comes to sex education, parents—not school districts—are in charge. pic.twitter.com/pVZ4Sj8GMF
— Texas Attorney General (@TXAG) March 22, 2022
A Pride Week handout reportedly from Bowie High School in the AISD was shared online that included activities such as “watching Queer Eye and nail painting parties.”
— Libs of TikTok (@libsoftiktok) March 23, 2022
The school district’s activities captured attention nationwide after a video was shared online of elementary students marching in a Pride Week activity that included waving rainbow flags.
Doss Elementary is set to have another pride parade tomorrow morning. The principal moved it to indoors and told parents they can no longer attend after this video went viral yesterday. Looking for a staff member who wants to help fight back. You will be 100% anonymous. Dm me https://t.co/TsTV1AW5KN
— Libs of TikTok (@libsoftiktok) March 22, 2022
AISD Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde shared Paxton’s letter in a Twitter post on Tuesday.
“I want all our LGBTQIA+ students to know that we are proud of them and that we will protect them against political attacks,” she wrote. The AustinISD Twitter account retweeted her statement.
I want all our LGBTQIA+ students to know that we are proud of them and that we will protect them against political attacks. https://t.co/fNGiaoNM3q
— Dr. Stephanie S. Elizalde (@AustinISDsupt) March 23, 2022
The incident is not the first time Texas has dealt with matters related to sexuality and gender in the classroom. Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott also addressed the controversy over inappropriate content in public school libraries in his state in November.
“Parents are outraged about highly inappropriate books in our public schools,” Abbott tweeted.
“In the wake of Texas Assoc. of School Boards’ negligence, Texas will develop statewide standards to shield children from pornography & obscene content in our public schools,” the governor added.
Parents are outraged about highly inappropriate books in our public schools.
In the wake of Texas Assoc. of School Boards' negligence, Texas will develop statewide standards to shield children from pornography & obscene content in our public schools.https://t.co/88h8dEc2YI
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) November 8, 2021
In Florida, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has come under criticism after signing a new law that prohibits teaching content related to sexual orientation and gender identity for students in K-3rd grades. The Daily Wire previously reported:
As recently as Monday, the governor tore into a reporter for misrepresenting the bill during a press briefing.
“Critics call it the Don’t Say Gay bill,” said the reporter, to which DeSantis replied, “Does it say that in the bill? I’m asking you to tell me what is in the bill because you are pushing false narratives. It doesn’t matter what critics say.”
“It bans classroom instruction on sexual identity and gender orientation,” said the reporter.
“For who?” pressed the governor. “For grades Pre-K through 3. So 5-year-olds, 6-year-olds, 7-year-olds, and the idea that you wouldn’t be honest about that and tell people what it actually says, it’s why people don’t trust people like you, because you peddle false narratives.”