The Brief: Transgender Student Guidelines Spark Call to Action
The Big Conversation
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called late Monday afternoon for the superintendent of Fort Worth ISD to resign following his issuance of new guidelines there dealing with transgender students.
This call to action was spurred by an announcement by Superintendent Kent Scribner at a late April school board meeting that he had signed guidelines instructing district employees to “acknowledge the gender identity that each student consistently and uniformly asserts.”
As the Tribune’s Patrick Svitek wrote, the school district has been working on those guidelines for about a year. But the announcement occurred against the backdrop of a fight over transgender rights which has taken the national stage. The federal government on Monday filed a civil rights complaint against North Carolina over a law that prohibits people from using public bathrooms that don’t correspond with their biological sex.
“The [Fort Worth ISD] guidelines,” Svitek wrote, “specify that schools must ensure students feel safe in their restrooms. If a student is uncomfortable using the bathroom with a transgender peer, the school must let the student use a single-stall restroom, a gender-neutral bathroom or a restroom where no one else is present.”
The lieutenant governor said Monday that Scribner was putting “his own personal political agenda ahead of the more than 86,000 students attending 146 schools in the district by unilaterally adopting ‘Transgender Student Guidelines.’ … Campus safety should be of paramount concern for anyone in his position. Every parent, especially those of young girls, should be outraged.”
Patrick also called on parents in the school district to speak out at a school board meeting scheduled for this evening. A few hours after his initial statement, Patrick said he would hold a press conference at the school district before their board meeting.
Trib Must Reads
For Foster Kids, a Push to Make Medical Care Treat Psychological Pain, by Edgar Walters — State officials hope a new network of clinics will better connect foster children with trauma-informed behavioral health care.
Analysis: Texas Legislators, Not Local Voters, Have the Final Say, by Ross Ramsey – Less than 24 hours after an Austin vote on ride-hailing regulations, state lawmakers lined up to countermand efforts there that get in ride-hailers’ way. Maybe they’re right. But politicians should overrule voters cautiously.
Convictions, Lawsuits Don’t Slow Re-Election Bid, by Alana Rocha — State Rep. Ron Reynolds, a Democrat from Missouri City, is busy appealing convictions and settlement judgments related to his law practice, but he says he’s confident he can ‘easily’ win re-election.
After Loss, Cruz Works to Keep Supporters Engaged, by Patrick Svitek – Ted Cruz may have dropped out of the race last week, but he is working to ensure his supporters stay engaged through the Republican National Convention.
Texas Deadline for Independent Presidential Candidates Passes, by Ross Ramsey — Monday was the deadline for independent candidates for president to get on the ballot in Texas. Nobody showed up.
The Day Ahead
• The House Higher Education Committee holds an interim hearing at 9 a.m. in the Capitol extension where they will discuss affordability and accessibility of undergraduate college education, with a focus on middle-class students.
• The Senate Select Committee on Property Tax Reform and Relief holds an interim hearing at 9 a.m. at the University of Houston to discuss the property tax process and how to reduce the tax burden on property owners.
After Cruz bows out, Texas tea party mulls what’s next, Houston Chronicle
California looks to Texas to solve nuclear waste problem, McClatchy Newspapers
Cruz campaign sued over use of music in videos, The Associated Press
Texas GOP chair race features contentious rematch, Austin American-Statesman
Even after Austin vote, state House Transportation chair wants to leave ride-hailing to cities, The Dallas Morning News
Quote to Note
“It’s important that this not appear as though we are pulling a stunt at this convention… This is about protecting movement conservatism.”
— Ken Cuccinelli, a former delegate counter for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz‘s campaign, on the former candidate’s intentions to control the Republican platform at the convention in July.
Today in TribTalk
Bridging the mental health treatment gap, by Stephen Glazier — For those with the most acute or profoundly disabling mental illnesses, the inability to access ongoing care has a devastating impact on their lives, their families and their communities. In recent years, the Texas Legislature has made significant efforts to mitigate these impacts by making strategic policy changes, increasing state funding for mental health services and engaging the public in an ongoing dialogue about mental health.
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 on Mental Health Matters on May 10 at KLRU Studio 6A in Austin
• 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/2016/05/10/brief-may-10-2016/.