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Supporters of Lewisville teacher removed after wearing a dress demand his reinstatement

A group of people sit in chairs in a boardroom
Bill Zeeble
Supporters of Hebron High School science teacher Rachmad Tjachyadi attend Monday night's Lewisville ISD school board meeting.

About three dozen protesters showed up at Monday night’s Lewisville ISD board meeting, demanding the reinstatement of a Hebron High School chemistry teacher placed on leave after he wore a dress to the school's Spirit Day.

Rachmad Tjachyadi was removed in February after a video of him circulated on the conservative social media account Libs of TikTok. Principal Amy Boughton emailed Hebron families that Tjachyadi had been placed on administrative leave “while the district reviews the situation, which is standard procedure,” CultureMap Dallas reported.

A petition to reinstate the “beloved” teacher appears to have gathered more than 20,000 signatures.

A crowd of demonstrators holding signs that read "Stand with Mr. T!" and "Be the bold one" in front of the Lewisville ISD administrative center. Some of the people are wearing pink.
Bill Zeeble
Supporters of Rachmad Tjachyadi pose in front of the Lewisville ISD administrative building before Monday night's school board meeting.

Before Monday night’s meeting, one of the protesters, Carrollton business owner DR Hanson, wearing an ankle-length low-cut pink dress, called Tjachyadi a dear friend whom he came to support.

“I’m surprised by how much I can still be surprised by hate and ignorance,” Hanson said. “I'm a queer person. I'm 41. I've grown up here. I feel like that should give me enough to know that this is still happening.”

Yet, Hanson was still surprised.

“It's not common sense from where I'm from to have a teacher who is qualified, a teacher who makes chemistry accessible and fun for their students, to be put on administrative leave because they wore a dress on Spirit Week," Hanson said. "It’s just asinine to me. And it's not fair.

"Are they putting women who wear pants on administrative leave when they go into school? No,” he continued. “They're not.”

A woman wears a shirt that says "Moms for Liberty" and holds a sign reading "Say yes to dress code in LISD."
Bill Zeeble
Marianna Porter was the lone counter-protester at Monday's Lewisville ISD school board meeting. She said the administration should stay in its own lane regarding chemistry teacher Rachmad Tjachyadi, because it's a parents' rights issue.

The demonstration drew a lone counter-protester, Marianna Porter, who wore a blue Moms for Liberty t-shirt and held a sign reading “Say Yes to dress code in LISD."

“It's unprofessional,” Porter said. “You go to school to learn. You should be dressed professionally, you know. You're presenting yourself to the students.”

As for Tjachyadi wearing a dress, Porter said “sometimes we, as parents, feel like the school administration kind of doesn't stay in their own lane.” She said these were parental issues.

Inside, the group — representing Equality Texas, Carrollton Pride, the Trans Empowerment Coalition of Texas and other organizations — interrupted the meeting, repeatedly chanting “Lead with love, not with hate, Lewisville must reinstate!”

Told to be quiet or they’d be removed, most protesters left. Trustees themselves took a brief recess and returned to continue the briefing.

Protesters outside continued their chants, saying they wanted trustees to hear and acknowledge their demands. They stopped using a microphone and speaker after an officer warned them it was too loud, but they did not stop chanting.

Stacey Monroe, with the Trans Empowerment Coalition, said the group would return to speak at the next board meeting March 18.

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