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The school board for the Keller Independent School District just north of Fort Worth passed the policies on June 28 in a 5-0 vote. One school board member abstained, and another member was not present.
One of the policies states that district employees “shall not promote, encourage, or require the use of pronouns that are inconsistent with a student’s or other person’s biological sex.”
Another new policy requires students to use the bathroom and locker room that “corresponds to their gender assigned at birth.” However, schools may allow students to use a single-stall restroom.
The new policies “lay the groundwork for protecting kids and educators. I also think they basically help us get off to a good start for the upcoming school year,” said Charles Randklev, the Keller school board president.
The Keller school district enrolls about 34,000 students.
Members of Citizens Defending Freedom, True Texas Project, and other community members campaigned for the school policies.
“The Keller ISD School Board made the right decisions regarding bathroom and pronoun usage, and Citizens Defending Freedom is proud to have been part of the fight for sanity in one local school district,” said Kenya Alu, executive director for Citizens Defending Freedom of Tarrant County.
“We hope to see school board trustees across Texas and Nationally, do the right thing for children and focus on teaching the basics rather than pushing a political agenda,” Alu said.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas was quick to condemn the new policies, calling them “discriminatory” and claiming they will harm LGBT students.
“These political attacks against kids are cruel and unlawful — and they create a hostile school climate for all,” the ACLU of Texas said in a tweet.
Parents and other community members packed into the June 28 school board meeting.
Some parents thanked the school board for voting to represent their values and said the bathroom rule is necessary to protect students’ safety and privacy. They also said the pronoun policy would not prevent anyone from using a student’s preferred pronoun — it simply will not force staff or students to use it.
The audience cheered some of the speakers who spoke during the public comment period of the meeting.
Several North Texas school districts including Keller recently elected conservative candidates to their school boards who have successfully pushed conservative policies.
Both Keller and the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District, just east of Keller, elected multiple conservative candidates who were backed by the 1776 Project, a political action committee that works to elect conservative school board members.
The Grapevine-Colleyville school district passed similar policies on trans-identifying students last year.
Transgender bathroom usage and mandatory pronoun usage, as well as other issues like biological males in girls’ sports and parental notification for gender identity changes, have become hot button issues in school districts across the country over the last few years.
Meanwhile, it is more popular than ever for youth to adopt new gender identities. An estimated 300,000 minors aged 13 to 17 identified as transgender as of last year.