AG Opinion Request: Fort Worth Transgender Policy “Conceals Information From Parents”

May 31, 2016

Lt. Gov. Requests AG’s Opinion on Implementation of Dangerous New Rules

Today, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick requested the opinion of Attorney General Ken Paxton based on the concern that Texas Education laws were violated by the Fort Worth ISD (FWISD) Superintendent as he unilaterally implemented a new policy that allows boys to go into girls’ showers, locker rooms, changing rooms and restrooms. The new controversial policy also allows boys to play on girls’ sports teams, and if a child claims to be “transitioning,” school personnel may not notify the child’s parents. The rules were not voted on by the FWISD School Board, and Fort Worth Parents were not notified about the rules until after they were implemented.  If the new rules are not followed, school teachers can suffer “adverse employment action.” Thousands of concerned Fort Worth residents have expressed their concerns about the new and controversial policy that has become a lightning rod issue in the local community.  FWISD officials have ignored the recommendations of parents and taxpayers thus far.

Lt. Gov. Patrick specifically stated in his request to the Atty. Gen., “In light of your pending lawsuit on similar subject matter directives from the federal government, and until the Texas Legislature can address the disruption, privacy, and safety concerns this policy creates in allowing boys to share bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, and changing facilities with girls, I focus this request for your opinion on:

  1. Does Superintendent Scribner’s policy violate Chapter 26 of the Texas Education Code, or any other law, in its effort to keep student information from parents, and;
  2. Did Superintendent Scribner have the authority to unilaterally adopt this policy without adoption by school board vote and without public comment?

Lt. Gov. Patrick stated that under the Superintendent’s policy:

“Despite being required to publicly address the student while at school and outside the parents’ presence by the student’s name and pronoun that corresponds to his/her asserted gender identity, school personnel must keep the “student’s actual or perceived gender identity and expression private,” including from the student’s parents, and only share this information on a “need to know basis or as the student directs.”” (see policy, page 5)

“…When school records are requested by parents that are required to be released, but may contain information regarding a student’s actual or perceived gender identity, personnel are instructed to contact the school district’s Office of Legal Counsel.” (see policy, page 5).

The Lt. Gov. also cited the Texas Education Code, Chapter 26 which states,

“Parents are partners with educators, administrators, and school district boards of trustees in their children’s education. Parents shall be encouraged to actively participate in creating and implementing educational programs for their children (Tex. Educ. Code § 26.001)…Additionally, parents are entitled to full information regarding the school activities of their child and any attempt by any school district employee to encourage or coerce a child to withhold information from the child’s parent is grounds for discipline.” (Tex. Educ. Code § 26.008).

Texas Values President and Attorney Jonathan Saenz stated:

“We understand that Fort Worth ISD government officials are ready to punish school teachers who don’t follow the new policy that jeopardizes privacy and safety. We think this is wrong. We stand behind Lt. Gov. Patrick and Texas school children, parents and taxpayers who have been working diligently to investigate the legality of such dangerous and highly controversial policies that were implemented without legitimate due process. Fort Worth ISD government officials’ attempt to punish teachers over new policies on shower rooms and changing rooms has resulted in controversy and distraction from education. Now there are legitimate concerns that this new government policy violates Texas education and parental rights laws as it forces school staff to withhold information from parents about their children. It is time that the Fort Worth ISD admit that this entire experiment and effort is tainted. The only honorable action now is for Fort Worth ISD to repeal the rules immediately, and respect the voices of Fort Worth parents and taxpayers, and school children.”

Find a link to the Fort Worth ISD policy here.

Find the AG opinion request here.

About Texas Values

Texas Values is a non-profit organization dedicated to standing for faith, family, and freedom in Texas. More information is available at txvalues.org

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