Parents picking sides in Dripping Springs transgender bathroom debate

Walnut Springs Elementary_352749

DRIPPING SPRINGS, Texas (KXAN) — A transgender bathroom issue heating up in Dripping Springs is expected to boil over at a school board meeting Monday night. Parents say word has been spreading about a student at Walnut Springs Elementary.

“There was a text that was going around school rallying parents who were trying to exclude this third-grade girl,” said Andy Hutton, who has a child at the school.

He tells KXAN the student was born as a boy, but identifies as a girl and has been allowed to use the girls bathroom with multiple stalls since the beginning of the school year.

“I certainly believe the district has done the right thing,” said Hutton. “I don’t see any problem at all.”

But another group of parents believe the district should have continued letting the student use a private, single stall bathroom.

“How did the school board and the superintendent come to this decision, or the principals, to start allowing boys into girls bathrooms,” asked Jonathan Saenz, President of Texas Values. “And how much more of this are we going to see?

The Christian conservative advocates group has been helping parents address their discontent with school officials.

“Parents were not notified from what we’re hearing,” said Saenz. “They have not been made aware of this and so a lot of people feel like this information was hidden from them.”

They are concerned about rights, privacy and safety—three things Hutton says are at the top of his mind, too.

“I’m concerned about the safety of the child that is been thrust into the spotlight,” said Hutton. “My kids certainly understand who this child is and love and support her as just a third-grade girl and not as any kind of symbol or political football.”

The communications director with the Dripping Springs Independent School District said she will have more information Monday on their policy, but cannot speak about specific student situations due to privacy laws.

State Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, who has children in DSISD told KXAN, “I learned about it late last week and am still studying the issue. However, I don’t think any boys, no matter their age, should be using girls restrooms and vice versa.”

The district sent out a statement Monday morning stating it is “committed to providing an exceptional education and a safe learning environment for all students.” The district says its policy prohibits unlawful harassment or discrimination against any student on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, national origin or disability.

The district goes on to say since there isn’t “clear guidance” from the courts on the issue of accommodations for transgender students the district is “handling individual student requests for accommodations on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration the age of the student, the nature of campus facilities, the activities the student participates in and the privacy interests of other students.”

Parents on both sides of the issue are expected to pack the school board meeting at 6 p.m. Monday night to voice their concerns to school board members—although the item is not on the agenda. The meeting will be held at 510 West Mercer Street in Dripping Springs.Editor’s Note: Rep. Jason Isaac was incorrectly identified as a Democrat in a previous version of this story.

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