Dozens seek change on trans-friendly Dripping Springs school bathrooms



7:50 p.m. update: Members of Texas Values joined dozens of parents and students at a Dripping Springs school board meeting Monday to urge district leaders to reverse recent transgender-friendly bathroom accommodations.

The group of community members spoke out after it came to the public’s attention in September that the principal of Walnut Springs Elementary School decided to allow a third-grade transgender student to use the girls’ bathroom.

“Parents were deprived of the opportunity to have this conversation with their children in their homes from a stand point that reflects the values and beliefs of the family,” said parent Nikki Kelton. “Students who had questions about the student undergoing transition were read a book about the understanding and acceptance of transgenderism without parental knowledge or consent. This book was read to the students by an influential and authoritative figure.”

The issue of bathroom accommodations for transgender students was not on the board’s agenda, so the members could only listen to public comments and not respond. Superintendent Bruce Gearing told the American-Statesman in September that the district has no specific written policy on the matter.

Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values — a conservative, Christian nonprofit organization — called the board disrespectful for not putting the issue on the agenda for discussion. The board reminded the meeting’s attendants that bathroom accommodations have never come before the board for a vote, and the district is following federal law by determining such matters on a case by case basis.

Although the majority of the attendants spoke against the board’s actions, there were a handful of parents and community members who commended the district’s trans-friendly bathroom accommodations for a third grader, and asked them to maintain their position. One of the parents, who knows the third grader in question, thanked the board for being accepting and nondiscriminatory.

Before the board meeting, Texas Rep. Jason Isaac joined members of Texas Values, and approximately 15 parents outside the school district’s offices to express his desire for the district to reverse its transgender-friendly bathroom accomodations.

“This is clearly a safety issue in my mind,” Isaac, whose two children attend Dripping Springs schools, said. “What it boils down to is the safety of our students and the safety of women throughout the state. I stand behind the parents and Texas Values about concerns of women’s safety.”

Isaac said he might work with state Sen. Donna Campbell of New Braunfels in the upcoming legislative session to support any bill that bars transgender students from using the bathroom that coincides with their gender identity.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has led a 13-state lawsuit against an Obama administration policy issued in May that directed U.S. public schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.

A federal judge sided with Paxton in October and put that directive on hold for now.

Earlier: State Rep. Jason Isaac plans to join the advocacy group Texas Values at 3 p.m. Monday in speaking out against the Dripping Springs school district’s decision to allow a transgender elementary school student to use the girls’ bathroom.

A Walnut Springs Elementary School third-grader who was born a boy but identifies as a girl has been using the girls’ bathroom since the beginning of the school year, according to parents.

Isaac and the members of Texas Values have taken issue with the Drippings Springs Independent School District administration’s decision being made without notifying parents and without a vote by the school board.

In September, a packed Dripping Springs school board meeting turned into a contentious forum on the decision.

According to Texas Values, parents have continued to contact the school board about the issue over the past two months.

The school board will have a meeting at 6 p.m. Monday.


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