Students say Katy ISD's controversial gender identity policy puts staff in 'too much of a risk'

Pooja Lodhia Image
Thursday, December 21, 2023
How Katy ISD's controversial gender identity policy is being enforced
ABC13 sat down with high school students who expressed their concerns about Katy ISD's new policy that requires district staff to inform parents if students identify themselves as

KATY, Texas (KTRK) -- We're now getting a clearer idea of the impact of Katy ISD's controversial new gender policy.

The policy, which passed by a 4 to 3 vote at the end of August, requires district staff to inform parents if students identify themselves as transgender.

The policy took effect on Sept. 1.

From Sept. 1 until Nov. 15, internal records show Katy ISD administrators have made 23 notifications to parents that their child either identified themselves as transgender or asked to use different names or pronouns at school.

"This is news on their TV, this is articles on their phone, but this is what we go through every day," Jarred Burton, an 11th grader at Tompkins High School, explained. "This is what we live. It's stressful to see people just not caring."

Ash Thornton, also an 11th grader at Tompkins, told his parents and teachers last year what he's known for a while. He's transgender.

"Around eighth grade, I started becoming really depressed, really uncomfortable," Thornton said. "I would actively avoid mirrors. I would avoid looking at myself or listening to myself if at all possible."

Katy ISD students say they've since seen teachers leave the room when students talk about gender.

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

"The teacher can't report it because the teacher doesn't know that the student has said such things," Thornton said.

"You run too much of a risk to come to these people because even if they do want to help you, they're put in a place where they have to choose between the safety of their students and the safety of their career," Burton said. "We're so scared that we're going to wake up one morning, and we're going to hear about a kid that got hurt or attempted suicide or something horrible."

Katy ISD's new policy also requires students to use restrooms that align with their sex assigned at birth.

ABC13's public records request revealed no students in the district have been punished for their restroom use so far.

"I use the nurse's restrooms because I feel uncomfortable going into the women's restrooms, and I'm not allowed in the male restrooms," Thornton explained.

"We're not trying to convince all these people that being trans is cool, normal, and good. We can't change their minds, but that's what they seem to focus on," Burton said. "They're not listening to us when they say queer kids are at high risk of suicide, and they make up a disproportionate part of homelessness because they get kicked out of their homes by their parents."

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