FORT WORTH (CN) – Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was met with boos and criticism at a Fort Worth Independent School District board meeting Tuesday evening after he called for the firing of the superintendent, for his transgender-friendly restroom policy.
Patrick, a Republican, reiterated his call for Superintendent Kent Scribner to step down during a press conference at the FWISD Board of Education complex.
Scribner has refused.
“When you ask for someone’s resignation, you owe an answer of why,” Patrick said before the board meeting. “I believe this policy is ill-advised. It’s wrong-headed. It violates the Texas Education Code, specifically, in dealing with parental information. But more than that, this policy does nothing to improve a student’s chance of graduating.”
Announced on April 19, the policy directs teachers and school officials to allow transgender students to use a single stall in bathrooms of the gender with which they identify, when other students are not present.
When the board meeting began, Scribner was greeted by a standing ovation and applause from the standing-room-only crowd.
He said the policy has been longstanding and is “nothing new.”
The policy was not on the meeting’s agenda, but most public speakers supported it, though several people in the crowd carried “repeal” signs against it.
One parent blasted the school board for creating a “media circus” during the week when State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness tests are taking place.
Former City Councilman and anti-bullying advocate Joel Burns backed up Scribner’s claim that the policy is longstanding, calling Lt. Gov. Patrick a “bully” who is having “fake” outrage over the policy.
“I was stunned yesterday to read about the lieutenant governor’s fake outrage in a press release filled with patent falsehoods about a policy that was adopted with public input in 2011,” Burns said outside of the building.
“That was five years and two superintendents ago, that this policy that the lieutenant governor’s so outraged over was adopted. Fort Worth public schools have been doing just fine in establishing policy and establishing guidelines to provide local school kids with a healthy learning environment, where they are treated with fairness and respect.”
Also Tuesday, Attorney General Ken Paxton, also a Republican, entered the fray by warning the school board its policy might break state law.
“I have strong concern that this policy violates provisions in the Texas Education Code that give parents an unequivocal right to information regarding their children and is motivated by a misguided view of federal law,” Paxton wrote in a 3-page letter. “I sincerely hope you will assess these deficiencies in the transgender policy and more as the board deliberates.”
Equality Texas Chairman Steven M. Rudner spoke out in support of Scribner, saying that “picking on children is a new low,” even for Patrick. He said Patrick “preaches about local control” and should respect the school district’s decision.
“When school districts have dealt with funding crises, failing test scores, scandals with administrators cheating on test scores, buildings falling, and other issues, the Lt. Governor is nowhere to be seen,” Rudner said in a statement. “It is sad and inhumane that only the chance to pick on transgender children, who simply want to use the bathroom in peace, gets his attention.”
Equality Texas, a nonprofit founded in 1989, advocates for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights.
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