June 29, 2016
By David Lee
AUSTIN (CN) – Fort Worth Independent School District’s transgender-friendly restroom policy illegally instructs school employees to not out transgender children to their parents, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Tuesday.
Paxton wrote in a 6-page non-binding advisory opinion that the guidelines “relegate parents to a subordinate status” because they allow for information only on a “need-to-know” basis. The policy, announced in April after being in place for two years, directs teachers and school officials to allow transgender students to use a single stall in bathrooms of the gender with which they identify, when other students are not present.
Paxton wrote: “Limiting parents’ access to information in this way impairs their ability to ‘actively participate’ in the children’s education, contrary to state law. Furthermore, the provision requiring school personnel to ‘work closely with the student’ to determine to what extent, if any, a parent will be involved in the student’s transitioning suggests that employees could, pursuant to these restrictions, encourage some children to withhold information from a parent. Such action is both against state law and grounds for discipline under the Education Code.” (Citation to Education Code omitted.)
Paxton said that Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent Scribner exceeded his authority by approving the guidelines without school board approval. He said state law allows the superintendent to implement policies set by the board of trustees “by developing administrative regulations.”
Paxton was asked to weigh in by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who demanded Scribner’s firing or resignation in May because of the restroom policy. Scribner refused to step down.
Both Paxton and Patrick are Republican.
“As I said from the beginning, Superintendent Kent Scribner violated the Texas Education Code when he unilaterally adopted his so-called transgender policies without school board approval,” Patrick said in a statement Tuesday evening. “Today, the attorney general agreed.”
Patrick was booed and jeered when he appeared at a May 10 school board meeting to ask for Scribner’s removal. He described the policy as “ill-advised” and doing “nothing to improve a student’s chance of graduating.”
Paxton’s opinion comes one month after he warned Target that its policy of allowing transgender people to use restrooms and fitting rooms corresponding to their gender identity could lead to crime and “otherwise unwanted activity.”
From Courthouse News.