The Frisco Independent School District (FISD) voted unanimously Monday night to require students to use bathrooms corresponding to their assigned gender at birth.
The new policy, brought by newly-elected FISD trustees Stephanie Elad and Marvin Lowe, applies only to multiple-occupancy bathrooms and changing rooms.
FISD’s new policy does not explicitly prohibit the district from continuing its previous de facto policy of providing specific accommodations upon request on a carefully-considered case-by-case basis.
Such requests generally result in the student being granted the use of a single-occupancy bathroom, as previously reported in The Dallas Express.
The matter of continued exceptions was clarified by Lowe and the school district’s attorney, Lucas Henry.
“If [students and their parents] decide that using a single-use bathroom is not acceptable … and they want to use a bathroom of their chosen gender, this will prevent that?” Lowe asked.
Henry said no.
“This policy leaves the opportunity to make an accommodation for a student to use a restroom that is not of their biological sex, but rather lets them use one of their choice,” stated Henry. “A [single-occupancy] restroom is usually the option that is preferred by the families.”
While the new policy does not appear to upend the district’s previous practices, it does seem to set a new default policy, the first of its kind in the district.
Public comment on the agenda item evoked a mixed response.
Some parents expressed concern over the new policy, arguing that it further stigmatized transgender students.
Ellie Patel, for instance, said she was disappointed in the board’s position. Addressing the board Monday night, she claimed a recent study revealed that 75% of transgender youth felt unsafe at school.
“They need to be accepted and treated with respect and kindness,” she said. “No one should be a second-class citizen.”
While most speakers addressing the board opposed the new policy, a number of parents supported it.
Lennea Hartoonian criticized the de facto policy of providing accommodations, stating that it is “not fair to those that do not believe in gender theory. It usurps the faith of many and not just Christians … Demeaning and demoralizing a female in the name of equity is inequality.”
Others echoed Hartoonian’s point about female students, voicing concern over possible increased vulnerability to harassment or assault.
Still, FISD claimed that out of the last 361 documented “bathroom incidents,” there have been no reported incidents in any of its campus bathrooms involving transgender students.
FISD has more than 62,000 students. Fewer than 50 have asked for restroom accommodations, according to the district.
Later in the evening, trustees also voted unanimously to update the district’s policy on reviewing library books. More than 300 books have been removed from libraries because of sexually-explicit content. The new policy provides an expedited review for books allegedly containing obscene passages.