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Civil Rights Groups Urge Education Department to Investigate Schools ‘Targeting’ Trans Students

Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

A coalition of seven civil rights groups filed a complaint this week accusing two school districts in Texas of discriminating against transgender and “gender non-conforming” students. The groups are pushing the U.S. Department of Education to open an investigation into the schools. 

In the complaint filed Monday with the ED’s Office of Civil Rights, the groups claim that a policy at the Keller ISD that bans books that discuss “gender fluidity” violates Title IX, the federal civil rights legislation that prohibits schools that receive federal funds from discriminating on the basis of sex. The school district reportedly did this last week, according to The Hill.

“The effect of the policy, absent federal civil rights intervention, will be to stigmatize LGBTQ+ and particularly transgender, non-binary, gender diverse, and intersex students in Keller ISD, to uniquely deprive them of the opportunity to read books that reflect their identities, and to create an environment in which unlawful discrimination flourishes,” the complaint reportedly said.

The second complaint of sex discrimination was aimed that the Frisco ISD school board over a policy passed last week that prohibits transgender students from using restrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identities. The complaint argued that the policy violates the students’ Title IX protections.

“This policy seemingly allows Frisco ISD and its teachers and administrators to ignore and erase students’ gender identities in violation of federal law,” the complaint said. “School districts have no right to question students’ sexual characteristics such as genitalia, hormones, internal anatomy, or chromosomes.”

Similar policies have been enacted in school districts across the country. In Virginia, Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s (R) administration released guidance that prohibits any kind of curriculum surrounding transgender ideology and requires school districts to keep parents in the loop on conversations about sex and gender. If a student identifies as transgender, school staff cannot conceal that information from parents. Students are also required to use facilities that align with their biological sex, not their gender identity.

“No policy, guidance, training, or other written material issued by the [School Division] may encourage or instruct teachers to conceal material information about a student from the student’s parent, including information related to gender,” the guidance said.

Townhall reported how Youngkin’s guidance came after reports broke that a school district in Fairfax County, Virginia was concealing students’ gender transitions from their parents. This included the children going by preferred pronouns and a chosen name at school. 

At a rally shortly after, Youngkin criticized the school district. 

"They [school officials] think that parents have no right to know what your child is discussing with their teacher or their counselor, particularly when some of the most important topics, most important topics that a child may want to discuss are being determined," Youngkin reportedly said.

"What's their name? What pronoun will they use? How are they going to express their gender? This is a decision that bureaucrats in Fairfax County believe that they should be able to make without telling parents,” he added.

In September, U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) introduced legislation that would withhold federal funding from any elementary school or middle school that allowed students to transition genders without informing their parents. 

“The law in the United States has long recognized the importance of parental rights. A parent’s right to oversee the care education of their child is guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment,” Scott’s legislation said. “Parents have a fundamental, constitutionally guaranteed right to raise and educate their children in the way they choose.”

“Public schools across the country are violating these fundamental parental and familial rights by deliberately hiding information about gender transitioning from their parents,” it continued. 

In a statement, Scott doubled down on his stance. 

“Schools exist to educate children — not indoctrinate them. And a quality education requires input from those who know children best: their parents,” Scott said in the statement. “Sadly, radical and secretive gender policies have shut parents out of the conversation and broken their trust. My bill will safeguard parental rights, improve the crucial relationship between parents and schools, and ensure that children can learn in an environment free from activist ideology.” 

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