The Katy Independent School District Board of Trustees is considering a new policy that would require employees to inform parents if a student asks to be identified as transgender, use different pronouns or change their name.

The proposal, discussed at a board meeting Monday, comes amid a growing national debate over how much privacy schools should grant students when it comes to gender identity.

Currently, the district has no policy dictating whether staff members must notify parents when they learn about students’ requests related to gender identity. No state or federal law mandates that districts adopt such policies.

Several Katy trustees said adopting a policy mandating that parents be informed of gender identity matters would be a proactive move on the district’s part, while other trustees opposed the proposal or questioned whether it was needed.

School officials have not released a written copy of the proposal, which remains in draft form, a district spokesperson said. However, a board member said Monday that the policy states: “Except to the extent prohibited by law or in cases of suspected abuse, district staff will notify parents that their child requests he or she be identified as transgender, change his name or use different pronouns at school.”

A district spokesperson could not confirm when trustees might vote on the policy proposal. Katy’s next board meeting is scheduled for Aug. 28.

Proponents of such policies say parents, not educators, should make decisions about what is best for a child, and keeping parents out of the loop can villainize them even if they are supportive. 

Critics have argued revealing a student’s gender identity change may be unsafe for children with unsupportive parents. LGBTQ+ children are at higher risk for suicide, depression and other mental health issues than their peers — and those risks are further elevated when parents do not support their identity.

Board President Victor Perez said the policy would protect teachers from “being pressured” into calling a student by a name or pronoun the educator is “not comfortable with.”

“Parental authority and the parents’ role is paramount,” Perez said. “Parents need to at all times have full knowledge as to what’s going on with their child. … The district should not be keeping secrets, concealing things.” 

Two trustees pushed back against the proposal. Board member Dawn Champagne said the policy would destroy relationships and trust between a child and a teacher. Trustee Rebecca Fox asked fellow board members when they would collectively “move past politics” and start serving children. 

The discussion added to the list of thorny issues taken on by the district. For years, Katy officials have taken stances on LGBTQ+ student issues and book banning that more often aligned with conservative voters.

In late June, trustees halted all new book purchases until they could decide on a protocol for reviewing books added to the district’s libraries. Shipments of books sat in storage until early this month, when board members expanded their book-banning authority. Trustees approved a policy allowing them to remove books from schools without input from a review committee. 

The review committees became controversial, too, with some pushing to have student perspectives represented and others advocating for parental input on the books lining the shelves. 

Three members of the public spoke against the unreleased proposal Monday, while none voiced support.

Cameron Samuels, a 2022 Katy ISD graduate, advocated against book banning and for LGBTQ+ issues in the district during their high school years. They said it was “disheartening” to have to return Monday to oppose the proposal. 

Logan McLean, a 2023 graduate of Cinco Ranch High School, said the board’s prioritization of the gender identity policy shows the district is becoming “a welcoming home to hatred and hostility.”

“I can speak as a student who has been in the system for the past 12 years that, of all the things this district could have done better with my education, addressing gender fluidity had never crossed my mind,” McLean said. “I no longer believe that the precious time spent in these meetings is truly addressing major issues.”

No trustees were made available for interviews after the meeting.

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Miranda Dunlap is a reporter covering K-12 schools across the eight-county Greater Houston region. A painfully Midwestern native to Michigan’s capital region, Miranda studied political science pre-law...