'It's always a risk coming out': Katy ISD students protest district's new gender identity policy

Pooja Lodhia Image
Thursday, August 31, 2023
Katy ISD students protest district's new gender identity policy
Dozens of students who are allies or in the LGBTQ+ community are protesting Katy ISD's new gender identity policy directed at transgender children.

KATY, Texas (KTRK) -- Several Katy ISD students were protesting the district's controversial new gender identity policy.

New rules require school staff to notify parents if students confide in them about their gender identities.

They also mandate bathrooms and sports teams be restricted by the gender students are born into.

Those who voted for the policy said this is all necessary in order to keep students safe and increase parental involvement.

Students protesting Wednesday know it won't be easy to convince the board to reverse the policy.

WATCH: What happens next with Katy ISD's new gender identity policy

A new gender policy has garnered attention in Katy ISD. But staff and students await direction on the next steps.

Still, they're not giving up.

"I'm just a teenager, but I try to help however I can because I don't want other kids to feel like how I did," 17-year-old Alastair Parker, a senior at Katy ISD, explained.

Parker always knew he was different.

"Living as the wrong gender and in the wrong body, being seen as the wrong person, it hurts," he said. "It really hurts to be seen as someone who you aren't."

He came out as transgender to some of his friends as early as middle school.

Then, he told his teachers and principal.

It wasn't until last year, as a junior at Cinco Ranch High School, that he came out to his parents.

"Even if their parents have expressed positive views of the LGBTQ+ community, you never know how they're actually going to react to it being their own child. Compared to people, they can say they support from afar," he said. "It's always a risk coming out."

Katy ISD's new gender identity policy would have made his experience impossible.

The policy also requires students to use restrooms and locker rooms that line up with the genders they are born into.

"I feel more comfortable, even as a very feminine trans man, going into the men's bathroom than I ever will going into the women's," Parker said. "I intend to continue using my preferred bathroom."

Katy ISD staff members haven't been given guidelines yet on how to implement these new rules.

Students like Parker don't know what to expect, but they say, they will keep fighting for what they believe are their rights.

"I'm only 17, and I have lost a lot of friends die to suicide because of the hostility that policies like this create. I've lost friends due to bullying, of being forced into the closet, being kicked out by their parents," he said. "It's important for me to speak out not just for myself, but for the people who can't speak out."

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