Parents Defending Education submitted public records requests to the Austin Independent School District requesting any documents that served as guidance on transgender issues within the district or any documents dealing with transgender issues from the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB). The school district provided the following response regarding guidance from the TASB:
The district possesses a copy of TASB guidance responsive to your request. However, the materials are copyrighted, and in accordance with the Texas Public Information Act, may only be viewed in person.
However, several school districts did provide PDE with the TASB’s transgender guidance upon request, including the Round Rock Independent School District and the Frisco Independent School District. The Austin Independent School District was the only district that admitted to having TASB guidance but would not provide a copy.
The copy that PDE received from the Round Rock Independent School District was titled “Legal Issues Related to Transgender Students.” This document provides several questions and answers on transgender issues. With one question, the document asks: “What if a parent does not support a student’s gender transition?” The document then provides a vague answer that mentions not using the preferred pronouns and names of students with parents. This tactic is often used to keep parents in the dark regarding the gender identity of their children. The document states:
As such, a student may request that a district employee not tell his or her parent about the student’s gender identity. School officials should proceed with caution in this case, in accordance with district policy regarding student counseling, crisis intervention, and child abuse. It may be possible to reach an agreement with the student and parent that satisfies everyone: for example, schools have instructed staff to call a transgender student by the student’s preferred name at school but to refer to the student by the name on the birth certificate in all communications with parents.
The document also appears to label “bullying” of a transgender person as a form of sexual harassment. The document states: “Bullying of a student because of the student’s nonconformity with gender norms is a form of harassment based on sex in violation of federal law.” The document later adds: “If a complaint is filed alleging discrimination or harassment of a transgender student, school officials should work closely with the district’s attorney.” The document also mentions that refusing to use a student’s preferred pronouns and name is a form of discrimination:
OCR and DOJ’s 2021 guidance cites a failure to address a transgender student by the student’s chosen name and pronouns as an example of sex based discrimination within the agencies’ enforcement authority under Title IX.
The document also explains that refusing to allow students to use their preferred restrooms and locker rooms is a form of discrimination. The document states: “As federal agencies with enforcement authority under Title IX, however, OCR and DOJ’s 2021 guidance cites a district’s refusal to allow a transgender student to use the restroom according to the student’s gender identity as an example of sex-based discrimination.” The following peculiar comment is also made in the document: “In addition, President Biden is urging Congress to pass a statute that would supersede state laws denying rights to transgender individuals.”
PDE also received contracts and invoices that the Austin Independent School District had with the TASB from 2018 to 2023. The school district paid the TASB for services such as $10,000 for “pay system maintenance,” over $100,000 for “bond program implementation,” nearly $50,000 for “Medicaid Services,” and $14,000 for “Consulting Services.”
PDE has not yet received the requested emails from the school district.