State Watch

Education Department urged to investigate Texas school districts for targeting transgender students

Associated Press/David J. Phillip

Seven civil rights groups have filed a complaint accusing two Texas school districts of engaging in unlawful sex discrimination against transgender and gender nonconforming students, calling on the Education Department to open an investigation into policies that bar students from using facilities consistent with their gender identity and ban books depicting “gender fluidity.”

Organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas and the Children’s Defense Fund of Texas in two civil rights complaints filed Monday allege policies recently passed by board members of the Keller Independent School District and Frisco Independent School District deliberately and unlawfully discriminate against transgender students.

A majority of the Keller ISD school board last week voted to ban library materials that discuss or depict “gender fluidity” for all grade levels, which LGBTQ advocates and free speech groups have warned will send a dangerous message to transgender students that they do not belong.

In the complaint filed Monday with the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights, the groups said the district’s new policy violates Title IX, which prohibits schools that receive federal funding from discriminating based on sex.

“The effect of the policy, absent federal civil rights intervention, will be to stigmatize LGBTQ+ and particularly transgender, non-binary, gender diverse, and intersex students in Keller ISD, to uniquely deprive them of the opportunity to read books that reflect their identities, and to create an environment in which unlawful discrimination flourishes,” the complaint states.

The policy adopted by the Keller ISD last week is the latest in a number of steps the district has taken to limit students’ exposure to LGBTQ issues and identities.

In August, school district officials were ordered to remove more than 40 books from library shelves, including the Bible and a graphic novel of Anne Frank’s “The Diary of a Young Girl.”

A recent report from PEN America, a nonprofit group advocating for free speech in literature, found that more than 1,600 books were banned in more than 5,000 schools over the last year, with most banned titles pertaining to LGBTQ+ issues and identities and race.

A second complaint of sex discrimination filed Monday against the Frisco ISD school board alleges that a policy adopted last week barring transgender students from using the restroom or locker room consistent with their gender identity also violates students’ protections under Title IX.

“This policy seemingly allows Frisco ISD and its teachers and administrators to ignore and erase students’ gender identities in violation of federal law,” the complaint states. The new policy mandates that students use facilities that match their “biological sex,” meaning the district can also refuse to recognize a students’ amended gender marker on their birth certificate.

“School districts have no right to question students’ sexual characteristics such as genitalia, hormones, internal anatomy, or chromosomes,” civil rights groups wrote Monday in the complaint.

Similar measures enacted in states including Tennessee, Oklahoma and Alabama have been challenged in court.

In a post announcing the complaints, the ACLU of Texas encouraged students in either school district affected by the new policies to contact them.

“LGBTQIA+ young people know who they are. We will fight to make sure they are loved and supported,” the group tweeted Monday.

Tags Texas Transgender rights

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video