Texas District Votes to Forbid Acknowledging Trans People Exist in Schools

Under a new policy, Texas school boards have banned students, teachers, and staff from discussing transgender issues or acknowledging the existence of transgender people at their schools.

The Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District (GCISD), located just northwest of Dallas, Texas, adopted the policy with a 4-3 voteMonday evening following around 200 comments from members of the communityMany of them were against the policy. The policy bans recognition of pronouns in transgender students and staff. It also requires teachers to use pronouns on students they have assigned at birth.

“[A]ny theory or ideology that (1) espouses the view that biological sex is merely a social construct; (2) espouses the view that it is possible for a person to be any gender or none (i.e., non-binary); or (3) espouses the view that an individual’s biological sex should be changed to ‘match’ a self-believed gender that is different from the person’s biological sex” is expressly forbidden from being discussed, per the new policy.

Even if parents sign a note specifically requesting a teacher use the student’s proper pronouns, teachers and other school staff will not be required to do so.

The new policy also prohibits students from using public restrooms or participating in sports teams that reflect their gender identity. It also prohibits teachers from discussing transgender issues in the classroom.

The policy prohibits trans issues as well as critical race theory (CRT) teaching. This is a set college-level teachings that examine how institutions perpetuate racism in society. Although CRT is not taught in most K-12 schools’ curriculum, It has been used by the far right as a political bogeymanIt is incorrectly portrayed as a social ill, harming our nation, and influencing our students.

According to reporting from LGBTQ Nation, the new guidelines adopted by GCISD “are the result of a concerted campaign organized by conservative [and Christian Nationalist] group Patriot Mobile Action, which has spent millions of dollars electing conservative majorities to Texas school boards.” Although many in attendance during the Monday school board meeting donned shirts with that organization’s name, most spoke out against the district adopting the new set of harmful and bigoted policies.

“By implementing these policies you are preventing our kids, the kids who were trusted into your care, from getting the help and support that they need,” a teenager from the district saidDuring the public comment period. “You will alienate them even more from getting help. … Help my friends. Don’t tell them they should be erased.”

A school alumnus who claimed he graduated with GCISD along with the school board president spoke out against the policy. He recalled how one of his peers was beaten up and made to not go to school for a year after being exposed as gay.

“This is why we expose kids to LGBTQ viewpoints,” the alumnus said. “Not to indoctrinate, not to make them gay or trans, but to teach them empathy, to show them that they are human beings who deserve care and love. … Kids deserve better than to be otherized and demonized.”

“It’s so disappointing that our kids can’t walk into what should be a safe place for all of them. … By banning inclusive language in our schools, you’re taking away representation, [which is] part of safety,” another parent said during the hearing. “If they’re not represented, they don’t feel safe.”

Although the proposal was made possible with the support of far right Christian Nationalists a United Methodist Pastor named Andrew Fiser opposed it. His congregation includes many students who attend schools in the district.

The ideas being considered by the board are “a white nationalist, fascist agenda you have brought here,” Fiser said. “You are beating up on LGBTQ+ students, on children, to get your agenda passed, and to have power. You should be ashamed of yourself. This is not Christian behavior.”

These restrictions on transgender students’ recognition can have devastating effects on their mental health, especially. According to The Trevor Project, 45 percent of LGBTQ youth overall seriously considered suicide last year.

LGBTQ youth typically have such thoughts due to being “placed at higher risk because of how they are mistreated and stigmatized in society,” the organization said. Lacking affirming spaces can increase suicidal risk — indeed, research from the organization shows that “LGBTQ young people report lower rates of attempting suicide when they have access to LGBTQ-affirming spaces,” including at their schools.