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Back to School: Know Your Bathroom Privacy and Religious Liberty Rights

Back to school chalkboard (620-280)

While Texas public school classes are going back in session, the legislature has left its special session without passing essential privacy protections for our schools.

This failure to protect privacy leaves schoolchildren vulnerable to school district policies that allow men into girls’ showers, locker rooms, and bathrooms.  The lack of a statewide standard on privacy in government buildings and schools contributes to an emerging patchwork of inconsistent local rules – many of which were passed behind closed doors with no input from the taxpayers (as has been the case in Coppell ISD, Dripping Springs ISD, and Fort Worth ISD).

Without a doubt, liberal LGBT interest groups will see Speaker Joe Straus’s and Representative Byron Cook’s blocking of the privacy protection bill as a green light to pursue even more un-vetted, untested, and controversial school district policies that put our children in danger – and will race to do so before a second special session.

Our Texas Values team stands ready to do whatever we can to make sure any efforts to change local policy, guidelines or practices on these issues at the school, district, city, or county level is done in full-view of the public and with significant community input. Parents have a right to know what’s happening in their child’s life, particularly while their child is on public school or any other government property.

It’s also important to know that President Trump has rescinded a set of Obama-era bathroom guidelines which forced public schools to allow young men and boys into bathrooms and locker rooms with little girls in all public schools and other government facilities covered by Title IX.

PRIVACY VIOLATION HOTLINE: Texas Values urges parents to call (512) 478-2220 or email [email protected] to report any school or district policy or action that violates privacy or religious liberty or similar concerns in other government buildings.

In addition to a reasonable expectation of privacy, students have numerous freedoms protected by laws such as the Texas Schoolchildren’s Religious Liberty Act and the Merry Christmas Law (both of which Texas Values team members helped to pass), as well as a strong record of court cases decided in the favor of the rights of parents and students. Such freedoms are as follows:

  • Students have the freedom to engage in student-led prayer at special events, such as See You at the Pole.
  • Students have the freedom to be a part of student-led Christian clubs, like Good News Club.
  • Students have the freedom to hold student-led Bible studies on the school campus before or after school.
  • Students have the freedom to express their Christian values, like praying at graduation ceremonies or choosing to write critically on topics such as abortion, evolution, or sexuality.
  • Students have the freedom to share their faith, which can include inviting friends to church and handing out pamphlets if other extracurricular groups are allowed to do so.
  • Students have the freedom to acknowledge holidays, including wishing their fellow students a Merry Christmas.

If public school students, parents, faculty, or staff experience or notice what they believe is a violation of any of these rights, Texas Values may be contacted at [email protected] or (512) 478-2220 for reporting of such incidents.

More Resources:

For more information on Texas’ Merry Christmas Law, please visit MerryChristmasTexas.com.

For more information on court cases that support personal and religious freedom in schools see First Liberty’s website here.

A Religious Liberty Protection Kit for Students and Teachers provided by First Liberty may be downloaded here.

Read the Trump administration’s letter rescinding Obama’s school bathroom guidelines here.

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