Fort Worth Schools Modify Transgender Policy to Include Parental Oversight

By Penny Starr | July 22, 2016 | 10:18 AM EDT

Destin Cramer, second right, embraces friends from the school’s Gender Awareness Group as they pose for a photo at the opening of a gender-neutral bathroom at Nathan Hale high school Tuesday, May 17, 2016, in Seattle. From left are Jakob Ainsworth, Honour Beattie, Zack Bebout, Cramer and Deena Kennedy. (Elaine Thompson / AP)

(CNSNews.com) – The Fort Worth Independent School District in Texas has altered its policy dealing with transgender students to include parents in decisions made for their children who attend the public schools.

“The primary difference is these guidelines focus on parent communication,” School Superintendent Kent Scribner said on Wednesday as reported by a local CBS affiliate. “Parent rights and responsibilities.” 

As CNSNews.com reported earlier, the guidance issued in June put students’ privacy over parental involvement in decisions, including what bathroom a transgender student could choose to use and whether the decision to “transition” to the gender the student prefers was made known to parents. 

Parents and others were reportedly outraged at the guidance, and at the request of Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a non-binding opinion on the policy following its release.

“Far from creating a partnership between parents, educators, and administrators regarding their children’s education, the guidelines relegate parents to a subordinate status, receiving information only on a need-to-know basis,’” Paxton said.

“Limiting parents' access to information in this way impairs their ability to ‘actively participate,’” the opinion stated, referencing Chapter 26 of the state’s Education Code.

The Dallas Morning News reported on Wednesday that the changes reflect what was heard from concerned parents and others and also a change was made as it refers participation in athletics based on established rules. 

"The new guidelines reflect what we've heard from students and teachers, parents and pastors," Scribner said in a statement published in part in the paper. "Our focus from the beginning has been the safety of all children and that, overwhelmingly, was the concern we heard from our parents and others."   

“Transgender students and their parents must now contact a school administrator or counselor to request a meeting to discuss their unique circumstances,” the article stated. “Any accommodations — including the access to restrooms or locker rooms — will be determined on a case-by-case basis based upon individual needs and school facilities. 

“When students are separated by gender for facilities or activities, transgender children may participate according to their individual support plan,” the article stated. “However, high school sports sanctioned by the University Interscholastic League must adhere to that league's rules, which uses the birth certificate to determine gender.”

In a statement, Paxton praised the changes. 

“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,” the statement said. “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. 

“Unfortunately, the Obama administration disagrees with allowing school officials to make common-sense, case-by-case choices,” said Paxton, referring to guidance issued by the Department of Justice earlier this year in response to a law in North Carolina requiring students to use the bathrooms and other facilities based on the sex on their birth certificate.

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