A local LGBTQ clinic advised the Dallas Independent School District to limit the information shared with parents about students who are transitioning gender, according to documents obtained in a public information request by The Dallas Express.

“Any decision to raise the topic [of a ‘student’s gender-expansive behavior’] with parents must be made very carefully and in consultation with the student. In some instances, a school may choose not to bring the subject up if there is a concern that parents or caregivers may react negatively,” reads a document provided by Resource Center, an LGBTQ clinic that administers transgender hormones and supplies references for crossgender surgeries, to Mahoganie Gaston, Dallas ISD’s coordinator of support services for LGBTQ youth.

Gaston had emailed Resource Center employee Leslie McMurray in 2020 asking the clinic to share “any literature that you can provide about youth transitioning,” as previously reported by DX. McMurray then sent Gaston a document titled “Schools In Transition: A Guide for Supporting Transgender Students in K-12 Schools.”

The exact document supplied was obtained in an additional public information request from DX. It suggests a series of school policies that can be implemented to assist students who want to transition genders. The plan, which is public, was coordinated by the Human Rights Campaign, Gender Spectrum, American Civil Liberties Union, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and National Education Association.

The document instructs schools to allow students who identify as transgender to access the private spaces of their choice, regardless of their biological sex. This includes bathrooms, locker rooms, and field trip sleeping arrangements. Schools are also advised to allow students who identify as transgender to participate on the sporting teams, homecoming court, and prom court based on the gender they identify with rather than their biological sex.

Meanwhile, schools are instructed in the document to be cautious or even avoid discussing a student’s gender identity with their parents, who may not support their child’s transition.

“If school staff believe that a gender identity issue is presenting itself or creating difficulty for the child at school, sensitively approaching parents about the situation may be appropriate,” the document states. “By gently exploring the degree to which parents and caregivers have observed the student’s gender-expansive behavior at home, educators can become an important bridge to helping family members understand and support the child.”

“If met with resistance, school staff should be ready with resources that may help family members better understand what the child is experiencing,” it continues. “Any decision to raise the topic with parents must be made very carefully and in consultation with the student. In some instances, a school may choose not to bring the subject up if there is a concern that parents or caregivers may react negatively.”

This hesitation to involve parents is emphasized in the “Gender Support Plan” outlined in the document. The plan serves as a checklist for teachers to keep track of specifics for each student who is transitioning genders.

“Are guardian(s) of this student aware and supportive of their child’s gender transition?” one item asks. “If not, what considerations must be accounted for in implementing this plan?”

“Who will be the student’s ‘go to adult’ on campus?” another question reads.

The document at large promotes the idea of gender identity in schools at a young age.

“Stereotypes about gender are reinforced in many ways in the school environment, which prevents all youth from reaching their full potential,” it states. “For example, we may limit the toys or activities students can enjoy based on our preconceived notions of appropriate behavior and roles for girls and boys.”

“Children typically begin expressing their gender identity between the ages of two and four years old,” another section states. “Even at that young age, transgender children are often insistent and persistent about their gender, differentiating their behavior from a ‘phase’ or imaginative play.”

“The consequences of not affirming a child’s gender identity can be severe, and it can interfere with their ability to develop and maintain healthy interpersonal relationships,” it continues. “In the school context, that distress will also hinder a transgender student’s focus in class and ability to learn. The longer a transgender youth is not affirmed, the more significant and long-lasting the negative consequences can become, including loss of interest in school, heightened risk for alcohol and drug use, poor mental health and suicide.”

Requests for comment from Gaston and Robyn Harris, the executive director of Dallas ISD’s communications team, did not receive a response. As did requests sent to McMurry and Rafael McDonnell, the senior advocacy, policy, and communications manager of Resource Center.

This “Schools In Transition” document provided to Dallas ISD in 2020 appears to be a preview of the LGBTQ plan later adopted by the district. The Out for Safe Schools program was launched in 2021 as a partnership with the Resource Center. It aims to train Dallas ISD teachers on how to be allies to LGBTQ students.

The slide show presentation of Out for Safe Schools given to teachers, previously obtained by DX in a public information request, revealed similar themes to that of the “Schools In Transition” plan. Dallas ISD teachers were instructed to have a “transition policy in place for students” that included “gender identity”-based use of locker rooms. The presentation mentioned the importance of “Determining whether there is concern about parental acceptance.”

Mentions of the Out for Safe Schools program were deleted from the Dallas ISD and Resource Center websites after a series of DX reports. Neither institution has responded to frequent requests for comment on whether the program still exists.