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Keller ISD trustees adopt controversial bathroom and pronoun policies

 7 people sitting behind one long desk.
Bill Zeeble
Keller ISD
Keller ISD trustees adopted controversial pronoun and bathroom policies with no opposing votes. Before the vote, board members heard form dozens of speakers praising and opposing the policies.

Keller ISD trustees Wednesday night passed two new policies aimed at trans and non-binary individuals in the district.

One policy directs teachers and staff not to “promote, encourage, or require the use of pronouns” inconsistent with a student’s birth certificate. The other requires people to use the restroom and locker room that “corresponds to their gender assigned at birth.”

Trustees listened for more than an hour as dozens of people offered public comment, both for and against the controversial policies.

Cynthia Cutler, a KISD 2015 graduate, said she came out as queer in high school, was sexually harassed, called names, and was discriminated against by students and staff.

“These policies protect bullies and will embolden their hate,” Cutler said. “So many of you here speak of protecting children, yet seem so eager to leave our most vulnerable and at-risk kids behind.”

Others, including Jennifer Matchett, praised both policies.

“The argument over the use of pronouns at school is ridiculous and an attempt by the woke to push their narrative on others,” Matchett said. “It's an attempt to get attention focused on one group of people at the expense of another."

Several speakers, however, took a middle position, pointing out the bathroom policy allows for accommodations for students or parents requesting such, and that the pronoun policy doesn’t prohibit teachers from using a student’s preferred pronoun choice.

The ACLU of Texas said earlier this month in a letter to the Keller ISD board and then Superintendent Rick Westfall that the two policies “violate federal law and severely misinterpret Texas state law.

“Enacting these policies would harm Keller ISD students, invade their medical privacy, and defy best practices recommended by nonpartisan education associations, including the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB),” the letter read.

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.