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Texas Matters: A Parent Of A Transgender Boy Speaks Out

Courtesy Photo
Ann Elder holds up a photograph of her son Benjamin at a press conference in support of transgender rights at the Texas capitol.

This week Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick doubled down in his stance against transgender students in Texas school districts using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. Patrick wants public schools in Texas to force children to use the bathroom that matches their birth certificate gender.

“No one believes in intimidating or bullying anyone. But how about  all the parents who are speaking out and say, 'You are picking on my kids.' 'My daughter wants to go to the restroom without a boy walking in.'  Or vice versa. The parent who says, 'I don’t want my 15-year old daughter having a shower with a 15-year old boy.' No one should be intimidated. No one should be bullied. And this has not been a problem in our school districts. School districts are taking care of it. That’s the way it should be,” Patrick told reporters.    

Patrick said he was sending out a letter to all school districts in Texas advising them to ignore the guidance letter that the federal government issued in May. That letter stressed that under the rules of Title IX the civil rights of transgender students needed to be respected which included allowing them to use the bathroom of their choosing. Patrick said Texas school districts should ignore that letter even if it means giving up federal dollars.

“We will not be blackmailed with 30 pieces of silver from the President of the United States. We receive about $10 billion in funding for the two-year budget. About 40- to 45 percent go to the free and reduced lunch. So that means the President would be taking food off the table of the poorest of the poor if he wants to punish schools. That’s why I call it blackmail. Trying to get someone to do what they don’t want to do – so you punish them. So this fight is just beginning,” he said.  

Patrick again singled out Fort Worth ISD and its superintendent Kent Scribner and called on them to rescind its bathroom policy which is based on a student’s gender identity.

“Again I call for his resignation - if he will not pull down this policy. If he doesn’t pull down the policy then the school board should fire him. And if the school board doesn’t fire him then the people of the Fort Worth Independent School District should hold them accountable. And I want to be very clear about something, again this issue of local control. I want local control. It’s this superintendent and this school board that’s prohibiting local control.”  

Patrick also announced that he was requesting an opinion from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to determine if Fort Worth ISD had broken the law.

Meanwhile Fort Wort ISD this week held its third public forum on its bathroom guidelines. Superintendent Scribner said he wanted to clear up misunderstandings about the policy.

“Can a boy go into a girl’s restroom at Fort Worth ISD school just because he says he’s transgender? Absolutely no. That’s a violation of our student code of conduct and would be subject to disciplinary action by the campus administrator. So the bottom line is that this guideline will not cause a boy and a girl to be in the bathroom at the same time,” Scribner said.  

Some Texas parents of transgender children are also speaking out in opposition to Patrick’s effort. Along with the organization Equality Texas they held a press conference criticizing Patrick for political grand standing and called on him to meet with them as to gain a better understanding of the consequences of his policy. Ann Elder spoke at that press conference. She is the mother of a transgender boy named Benjamin.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi