Katy ISD releases policy draft regarding approach on students' gender fluidity, use of pronouns

Tuesday, August 22, 2023
Gender fluidity policy among hot topics for Katy ISD board
Katy ISD had the topic of gender fluidity on its agenda Monday, but it's not clear what exactly a proposed policy will mean for teachers and students.

KATY, Texas (KTRK) -- Katy ISD returned to classes last week, and already, there have been heated discussions about some changes.

Among them, the board is considering a new policy when it comes to students' gender identities.

The matter was on the agenda Monday night as "Discuss and consider Board approval of FFJ-Student Welfare: Parental Authority and Gender Fluidity Matters."

At the time, what exactly the policy would state was unclear.

ABC13 asked Katy ISD's communications team for verbiage on Monday night because they didn't publish it online with their agenda. However, the district responded "no," citing it was still a draft. ABC13 finally received a copy of that draft at about noon Tuesday.

According to the document, the district says that:

  • Biological females and males and sex-specific spaces are safeguarded
  • District facilities such as bathrooms, locker rooms, and changing facilities are separated by biological sex
  • The pronouns used for persons on campus are consistent with the biological sex of the person
  • Gender fluidity content is excluded from the classroom and instructional materials
  • District staff will not diagnose or treat gender dysphoria and will respect the right of the parent to determine what is best for the welfare of their child

The policy adds that, "The District's ultimate goal is to ensure students are safe to learn and grow, and not to engage in the social transitioning of students."

On Monday, Board President Victor Perez said that the policy was drafted with the focus of student safety in mind, adding that though there have been no major issues in the district, he wanted to provide a policy to give teachers guidance.

He explained that the idea behind it is to give parents full knowledge of what's going on with their child, providing an example that if a student is using a pronoun different from their biological sex, teachers can use that pronoun if a parent has signed off on it.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, gender fluid is when a person does not identify with a single fixed gender or has a fluid or unfixed gender identity.

Harvard Medical School explains that some people develop a gender identity early in childhood. Experts have said that those who express or identify their gender differently from their sex at birth are more likely to experience prejudice and discrimination, leading to mental and physical health challenges.

The policy explains that Katy ISD staff won't ask a student for their preferred pronouns and won't use the pronouns that don't correspond to a student's biological sex unless a student's parent has given written consent. However, the district adds, it can't and won't compel its staff or other students to address or refer to students in any manner that would violate the speaker's First Amendment rights.

The district also said that it will tell parents if a child requests to be identified as transgender, changes their name or uses different pronouns at school.

You can view the draft policy at this link.

"Parents need to at all times have full knowledge of what's going on with their child and be able to determine what is best for the welfare of the child. This policy emphasizes communication and collaboration with parents, teachers and all district staff to jointly work together," Perez said on Monday night.

But board members still raised concerns.

Member Dawn Champagne brought up that the burden of the policy will fall on teachers. Another echoed that sentiment.

"To tell teachers through a policy that if a child comes to you and needs a sounding board or just needs a word of advice or says, 'I'm confused. Can you help me?' And now the teacher has to call the mom and tell them," said Rebecca Fox.

Meanwhile, others say the policy is needed to have standards within the district so everyone is treated with respect and provide an environment for all students to learn and grow.

Yet another board member expressed that some of what they discussed are policies already in place. When asked why the policy was needed now, Perez said, "We're protecting children."

"What are we protecting them from?" Fox asked.

Perez: "We're protecting children."

Fox: "From?"

Perez: "Well, for example. I don't want to get into the whole trans thing, but we're protecting them... using pronouns is a way of social transitioning children. We're protecting them from that. That's one way we're protecting them."

Another meeting is set for next Monday.