Parental rights? This Texas school district may let teachers reject kid’s pronouns — even if parents approve
"A North Texas school district may let teachers reject children’s pronouns — even if parents approve of them" was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
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Teachers will not be forced to address students by the pronouns that match their gender identity even if a parent asks them to and transgender students will be barred from playing sports if two new policies targeting gender identity are approved Monday night by the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District board.
It’s the latest move by a school board to more formally exclude transgender youth in schools.
The Grapevine-Colleyville district, located between Dallas and Fort Worth, just added two members to its seven-member school board in May. Both received donations from the Christian cellphone company Patriot Mobile, which has targeted the defeat of any school board candidate who endorses what they call “critical race theory” and ones who support books about LGBTQ identities, saying that kids were exposed to “explicit, ‘woke’ books.”
None of the seven GCISD school board members immediately responded to a request for comment.
The pronoun measure before Grapeville-Colleyville ISD states that “the district will not promote, require, or encourage the use of titles or pronoun identifiers for students, teachers or any other persons in any manner that is inconsistent with the biological sex of such person” as listed on a person’s birth certificate.
And if a student, parent or legal guardian asks the teacher to address the student with pronouns that match their gender identity, the district policy — if approved — will leave it to the teacher’s “discretion” as to whether a teacher will do so.
The pronoun policy is one of several proposals under consideration involving how race and gender will be addressed in this school district.
A separate proposal also prohibits students from participating or competing in athletic events that are “designated for the biological sex opposite to the student’s biological sex.” District staff also cannot teach or promote “gender fluidity,” which is the idea that one’s gender identity is not fixed and can extend beyond male and female. Staff also cannot teach or talk about sexual orientation and gender identity until kids are in the sixth grade.
And a third proposal before the Grapevine-Colleyville board Monday night relates to incorporating Senate Bill 3, the state’s so-called “critical race theory” law into a districtwide policy.
This is seemingly the first school district to take this formal step. Since the bill was passed last year, there has been confusion about how the law should be applied. School administrators across the state have asked the Texas Education Agency for guidance on the law. The agency’s response is for school districts to just continue teaching the current social studies curriculum.
SB 3 was crafted to keep “critical race theory” out of schools, with restrictions on how to talk about slavery and eventually sending teachers to civics training. Critical race theory is the idea that racism is embedded in legal systems and not limited to individuals. It’s an academic discipline taught at the university level. But it has become a common phrase used by conservatives to include anything about race taught or discussed in public secondary schools.
The Grapevine-Colleyville board proposal states that teachers and administrators cannot discuss critical race theory or what they have called “systemic discrimination ideologies.” The board proposal, like the state law, would prohibit requiring students to read the New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project, a collection of essays that centered on how slavery and the contributions of Black Americans shaped the United States.
The discussion of such policies comes almost a year after James Whitfield, a Black principal in the district, was put on leave and then eventually resigned after being accused of teaching “critical race theory.” In 2020, Whitfield emailed a letter to parents and staff in which he wrote that systemic racism is “alive and well” after the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis.
Protect Texas Kids, a conservative nonprofit organization, is rallying support for the school board meeting, posting on Facebook that conservatives must come out as they expect Democrats to pack the meeting.
“They will be voting on great new conservative policies that will set precedent for other districts,” the organization posted.
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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2022/08/22/grapevine-colleyville-isd-transgender-critical-race-theory/.
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