The debate over transgender student bathroom use within Dripping Springs ISD was rekindled Monday as a local state representative and a nonprofit Christian group opposed the district’s current policy.
Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values, and State Representative Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs) held a joint press conference in Dripping Springs outlining their disapproval of DSISD’s policy regarding transgender students and bathroom use.
Saenz said the DSISD board of trustees had let down the community by refusing to be transparent over the policy.
Earlier this year, a firestorm of controversy was ignited after it was discovered a Walnut Springs Elementary transgender student, who was born male, was allowed to use the girls restrooms with stalls on the campus.
Members of the community on both sides of the argument addressed the issue during a two-hour public comment period at a September board meeting.
Dripping Springs ISD trustees did not address the topic at that time. The district, however, released a statement that said its policy “prohibits unlawful harassment or discrimination against any student on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, national origin or disability.” The district said in the statement administrators handle individual students’ requests for bathroom accommodations on a case-by-case basis.
“Concerned parents have showed up to school board meetings to ask that this issue be publicly addressed and they have been turned down,” Saenz said.
Isaac took the podium to support Saenz and the parents who came out to speak against the school district’s current policy.
“I’m in close discussions with the Lieutenant Governor about this and I believe we will see a bill of legislation about this whether it’s from me or someone else,” Isaac said.
Cassandra Adams, a Dripping Springs resident and mother, spoke at the press conference and admitted she was “disappointed” with the DSISD’s lack of transparency on an issue important to conservative parents.
Adams claimed that the DSISD school board was violating their students’ “rights, dignity and safety” by using clever “word play” and allowing transgender children to use either girls or boys bathrooms depending on identity.
Saenz voiced his support of the school district offering transgender children a private bathroom to use, which he said was the original solution. Saenz added the district was threatened with a lawsuit if they didn’t allow transgender children to use the bathroom of their choice.
Other residents, including a nurse and Sunday school teacher, chastised the DSISD school board for not taking the issue directly to parents in the first place.
“It’s a human right to feel safe and secure,” one speaker said against the school district teaching Christian children contradictory lessons regarding gender.
Saenz said parents and Texas Values want a voice in the policy discussion and have pursued an open records request for the DSISD’s current policy on bathroom and shower use for students and staff.