The Fort Worth school district today released new guidelines on transgender students’ access to restrooms.
The two-page document calls for schools to consider each transgender student on a case-by-case basis. That’s a turn from previous instructions directing school staff to offer transgender students the use of a single-stall restroom or a bathroom where other students are not present.
“The new guidelines place a heavy emphasis on involving parents and trusts students, teachers and parents to work together to make the right decisions,” Fort Worth Superintendent Kent Scribner said in a statement. “We have great confidence in our school leadership at the campus level and will place our trust in parents, principals, counselors and teachers to take care of our most vulnerable children.”
Behind the bathroom debate
The original guidelines made in April set off a political firestorm. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick repeatedly called on Scribner to resign. Last month, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a non-binding opinion, calling the guidelines a violation of state law because it allowed teachers and staff to withhold information from parents. Though the guidelines were embraced by the local LGBT community, some Fort Worth parents criticized the district for not being transparent about the process.
The changes to the guidelines come after the district held six town hall forums, five committees meetings, and allowed public comment during four school board meetings.
Attorney General Paxton released the following statement on the changes:
“I applaud the Fort Worth Independent School District for revising its guideline to ensure it complies with state law and my recent attorney general opinion. This guideline now allows school officials to consider the needs of students and their families on a case-by-case basis while considering the health and safety of all students.As a result, the Fort Worth guideline is in line with a policy adopted by Harrold Independent School District. Unfortunately, the Obama administration disagrees with allowing school officials to make common-sense, case-by-case choices. My office is proudly representing Harrold ISD in litigation against the federal government and stands ready to do the same for Fort Worth ISD.”
Paxton’s office sued the Obama administration after the President issued a directive on transgender rights in schools.