Hundreds of teachers, students, and parents spoke during Katy ISD's board meeting where board members passed a gender-related policy to be implemented into the district's schools.
The policy would prohibit discussions of gender fluidity in the classroom, require transgender students to use restrooms that correspond with their sex at birth, and require teachers to notify parents if a student is using pronouns different to what they were assigned at birth.
Many of the speakers spoke against the policy. Ana Brown is a former Katy ISD student with children in the district. She said she found support in her school that she did not have at home when she was growing up.
"I went by a different name. I had a loving and supportive home with a mother who unfortunately did not believe in bisexuality until the last five years," she said. "There was no affirmation of my identity at that time at home. But I got that in my schools."
However, some speakers were in support of the policy, saying parents have the right to know what their kids are going through at school. One speaker, Claudia Turcotte, said there are many people who are afraid a student might end up vulnerable by abusive or unsupportive parents.
"By this logic, it would make sense to withhold other information such as bad grades, bad behavior, tardies, et cetera," she said. "Maybe we shouldn't tell parents anything on the miniscule chance that they might be abusive."
Thomas McKay is a resident of the district who said he was in support of the policy, and that he believes many churches would support it as well.
"But unfortunately they tend to be silent because they're more interested in being politically correct than biblically correct," he said. "If some kid wants to use a different pronoun then so be it, but forcing kids to call that kid by a pronoun not matching the biological gender will cause confusion when it goes against common sense."
Ethan Michelle Ganz is a trans, nonbinary activist who spoke during the board meeting. They said this policy is indirectly racist.
"Before colonization of this country, there were 155 native nations that recognized between three and five genders. It was European colonization that brought the gender binary here," they said. "Gender, just like race, is a social construct. And it is not connected at all to biology."
Other speakers were concerned the policy would lead to more bullying and harassment for students. Victor Perez, Katy ISD's President of the board, said during discussion before the vote that the policy does not target or out anyone.
"This policy does not deal with anyone's sexual orientation, the policy does not require district staff to ask about anyone's sexual orientation or gender identity," he said. "In fact that is something that schools should absolutely not be asking about. Whether in the classroom or in a counseling session, or in a survey. We are here to educate."
Some board members felt the policy was too vague and confusing to pass at this time. Katy ISD board trustee, Dawn Champagne, said there should be a well-defined process for all staff to follow.
"A process that is the same across all campuses, and for the entire district. This is too serious for us to form a policy without any direction. Children's lives could be at risk, and this is not a risk that I care to take too lightly," she said.
The new policy passed in a 4-3 vote with newly appointed board members voting for the policy and veteran members voting against.
During the meeting, Champagne spoke on behalf of all staff of Katy ISD who were concerned with getting in trouble for not following the policy.
"Staff members include bus drivers, registrars, librarians, library aides, security guards, cafeteria workers, receptionists, secretaries, custodians, teachers, and many more," she said. "Even though the new statement says that such notice [on a student choosing to use different pronouns] may be given by any staff member, it will not define what that process is."
Katy ISD isn’t the first district to pass this kind of policy: Keller ISD adopted a similar policy earlier this summer.