The Fort Worth Independent School District’s controversial transgender bathroom guidelines, which triggered a national firestorm, just got a major rewrite.
Wednesday, district officials unveiled its new, slimmer two-page Fort Worth ISD New Student Safety Guidelines. This milder version also reflected input from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who previously said the guidelines violated state law, mainly because it cut parents out of their child’s information loop.
The updated guidelines call for schools to consider each transgender student on a case-by-case basis and include parental input, which the original eight-page Fort Worth ISD Transgender Student Guidelines did not.
“The new guidelines place a heavy emphasis on involving parents and trusts students, teachers and parents to work together to make the right decisions,” said Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent Paredes Scribner in a release. All parties will work together to develop an “individualized support plan” when faced with a request for access to restrooms, locker rooms, or changing facilities.
Scribner noted the truncated guidelines intend to provide “more clear, concise and place trust in those most involved to find the right answers for each child.”
The transgender bathroom issue blew up after Scribner “unilaterally” implemented the lengthier version of the guidelines in April. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick called for Scribner’s resignation, dubbing the superintendent’s actions “irresponsible” for bypassing input from parents, the school board and the taxpaying community.
The original guidelines authorized school counselors only to discuss issues with a transgender student’s parents on a “need to know basis or as the student directs” and left the decision of whether or not to inform parents of their child transitioning to another gender up to the student. It also suggested punishment if an employee failed to follow these directives.
At the time, Scribner maintained he only enacted a 2011 school board approved transgender policy. He said they “added protections against gender-based harassment” a year later. Patrick countered that Texas enacted anti-bullying and anti-harassment legislation in 2011.
Soon thereafter, the Lt. Governor filed an inquiry on the matter with the Attorney General’s office. In late June, Paxton stated the guidelines violated two chapters of the state’s education code. Chapter 26, nicknamed the “Parent’s Bill of Rights,” ensures parents have access “to all written records” and “information” about their child’s activities in school and Chapter 11. It requires school board trustees adopt district policies while superintendents only implement them. Paxton wrote: “Attempts to encourage a child to withhold information from his or her parents may be grounds for discipline.”
Subsequently, Fort Worth ISD held six school board meetings where students, parents, clergy, teachers, and other community members voiced both support and opposition for the transgender guidelines. These forums and, likely, Paxton’s opinion netted the revised bathroom policy.
“The new guidelines ensure that parents, guardians and others share in the charge to protect our kids,” said Scribner. The document refers to parents as “partners with educators, administrators, and the board in their children’s education.”
In response to Wednesday’s changes, Paxton released a statement: “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,” he stated. “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.”
Patrick, in a statement, called the revised guidelines “a victory for parents’ rights and student safety.” He expressed his pleasure that the school district’s superintendent and school board “listened to parents in the school district and pulled down their existing transgender policy.”
In May, President Barack Obama issued a transgender directive for K-12 schools across the country that excluded parents from any role when their children experimented with their “gender identity.” In response, Paxton initiated a lawsuit, now signed onto by 11 states, arguing the Obama administration violated federal law and the U.S. Constitution in redefining “sex” to include gender identity as well as in “threatening” to sue and withhold funding from states and public schools that refuse to adopt the policy.
“Unfortunately, the Obama administration disagrees with allowing school officials to make common-sense, case-by-case choices,” Paxton underscored.
Follow Merrill Hope, a member of the original Breitbart Texas team, on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.