The Brief: TEXAS – Battle Over Transgender Bathroom Policy Rages On
The Big Conversation
Supporters of a newly adopted bathroom policy aimed at accommodating transgender students in Fort Worth ISD accused Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick of expressing “fake outrage” in an effort to score political points.
Patrick called for the school district’s superintendent Kent Scribner to resign after he approved a district-wide policy allowing transgender students to use school bathrooms that align with his or her preferred gender identity. Scribner said he will not heed Patrick’s request.
During a press conference in Fort Worth just before the district’s school board meeting, Patrick said Scribner broke state law and overstepped his role as chief of the state’s sixth-largest school district, the Tribune’s Kiah Collier and Madlin Mekelburg wrote.
“[Patrick] said Scribner should focus on improving the district’s failing schools, rather than ‘social engineering’,” Collier and Mekelburg wrote.
Supporters of the district’s policy held a “dueling news conference” before Patrick delivered his comments, expressing frustration over Patrick’s “misplaced priorities.”
“There is no news here,” said Steve Rudner, chairman of Equality Texas, during the conference. “The only news here is that the lieutenant governor has decided to pick on an already bullied group of kids. It’s shameful and it’s despicable.”
The district’s school board heard public commentary on the guidelines during their meeting Tuesday, where people called on the board to “repeal the guidelines and start over.” The board did not take any action.
Also on Tuesday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton attempted to advance Patrick’s cause by submitting a letter to Fort Worth ISD Board President Jacinto “Cinto” Ramos detailing his legal concerns with the policy.
Trib Must Reads
Former Death Row Inmate Fights for Compensation, by Johnathan Silver – Freed after a decade on Texas death row for a murder he says he didn’t commit, Alfred Dewayne Brown thinks he’s entitled to compensation from the state, but Comptroller Glen Hegar is saying no.
Buckingham, King Pull No Punches in Senate Runoff, by Edgar Walters – The primary runoff for outgoing state Sen. Troy Fraser’s seat has gone fully negative. State Rep. Susan King, R-Abilene, and Travis County eye surgeon Dawn Buckingham are trading barbs in public appearances left and right.
After Primary Night Surprise, State Rep Tries to Fend Off Challenger, by Matthew Watkins – State Rep. Wayne Smith, R-Baytown, wasn’t viewed as a particularly vulnerable incumbent in the March primary. But he barely eked into a runoff with 31-year-old attorney Briscoe Cain.
Heidi Cruz Likens Husband’s Campaign to Efforts to End Slavery, by Patrick Svitek – Drawing a parallel between the long-term efforts of her husband’s supporters and the fight to end slavery, Heidi Cruz said Tuesday that it took “a lot longer than four years” for the latter fight to be successful.
In the Texas House, Concern But Less Fervor Over College Tuition, by Matthew Watkins – Members of the Texas House Higher Education Committee said they were worried about the rising cost of college in Texas, but stayed away from the criticism and dramatic calls for action heard from the Senate in recent weeks.
Ted Cruz: Voters Don’t Need to Decide on Trump Yet, by Patrick Svitek and Abby Livingston – On his first day back in the Senate, Ted Cruz repeatedly avoided endorsing his party’s presumptive presidential nominee, ruled out a third-party run against Donald Trump and said he would continue to serve as an “outsider.”
The Day Ahead
• The House Public Education Committee holds an interim hearing at 9:30 a.m. in the Capitol extension where they will discuss policies protecting students from inappropriate teacher-student relationships and the accessibility to broadband services for schools, libraries and higher education institutions.
• The House General Investigating and Ethics Committee holds an interim hearing at 10 a.m. in the Capitol extension where they will examine contracting practices at major state agencies.
(Links below lead to outside websites; content might be behind paywall)
Lawmakers hear complaints about rising property taxes, Houston Chronicle
San Antonio lawmaker wants to boost governor’s power, San Antonio Express-News
Texans, and Others, on What the State Means to Them, The New York Times
Gov. Greg Abbott getting ready for bus tour to promote his new book, The Dallas Morning News
Judge: Billionaire Wyly brothers committed tax fraud, The Texas Lawbook
In GOP race for railroad commissioner, accusations fly, Austin American-Statesman
Top GOP senators urge unity on Trump, Politico
Texas Fighting Order to Disclose Execution Drug Supplier, The Associated Press
After 2012 stunner, ex-con makes another White House run, The Associated Press
Improper teacher-student cases on track to break Texas record, Austin American-Statesman
Crystal City voters clean house, San Antonio Express-News
Before he can stand trial, Arlington man must regain his sanity – for a second time, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Quote to Note
“Be full of faith and so full of joy that this team was chosen to fight a long battle. Think that slavery – it took 25 years to defeat slavery. That is a lot longer than four years.”
— Heidi Cruz speaking on her husband’s presidential campaign during a conference call with his National Prayer Team.
Today in TribTalk
Partnering for Texas students, by Vistasp Karbhari, Betsy Price and Angela Robinson – Changing trends in Texas are driving a demand for a well-educated workforce more than ever before. To address these needs, cities, counties, school districts and college systems must made radial changes in sharing information and increasing collaboration to guide students through their college years.
News From Home
• Across Texas there are programs to address the mental health needs of people who are suffering, but major challenges remain in providing mental health care to those who need it most, triggering passionate policy debates. Those challenges are the focus of Mental Health Matters, a partnership between The Texas Tribune, the Mental Health Channel and KLRU. Throughout Mental Health Month in May, we are joining forces to examine different areas of concern and the work being done to fill in the gaps.
Trib Events for the Calendar
• A Conversation with Mike Morath, Texas Education Commissioner, on May 17 at The Austin Club
• A Conversation Series on the Direction of Health Care: Do We Have Enough Doctors?, on May 19 at the Medical World Americas Conference in Houston
• A Conversation with Ryan Sitton, Texas Railroad Commissioner, on June 3 at The Austin Club
• The Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 23-25 at the University of Texas at Austin
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2016/05/11/brief-battle-over-transgender-bathroom-policy-rage/.