The Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District (GCISD) Board of Trustees passed several controversial policy changes ranging from how sex and gender are treated in the classroom to new rules governing school board elections during their meeting Monday night.
Some of the measures passed include requiring individuals only use bathrooms designated for the sex assigned to them at birth, banning any discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation before the sixth grade, requiring board authorization for all books used or made available in district schools, and banning any discussion of critical race theory or “systemic discrimination ideologies” in GCISD classrooms.
Additionally, the board passed a new rule for its trustee elections, allowing for a plurality of voters to select the winner rather than holding runoff elections for a candidate to secure a majority of voter support.
Nearly 200 local residents showed up to register their support or opposition to the proposals during the public comment segment of the meeting, and dozens more attended to lend moral support to their respective sides.
Cheers and jeers could be heard from the building’s overflow room where dozens watched the board meeting on a flatscreen. Even more residents crowded into the foyer to watch on two mounted televisions.
Many speakers passionately expressed their opinions over several hours of public comment before the board’s votes.
Some praised the board’s majority for delivering on its promises, particularly its perceived emphasis on “involving the community” and “protecting [the] kids.”
Early in the evening, GCISD resident Jennifer Simpler took to the podium in support of the majority, stating:
“We should want to stand out as a district who listens and acts on behalf of families that live here rather than conform to the trends of society … These policies tonight prove that [the trustees] are delivering on their promises. These policies reflect the values of the people who elected them which is the majority of GCISD.”
Another local resident, Robert Smolen, voiced support for the new policies, specifically praising the board for “protecting the integrity of the girls and boys bathrooms in accordance to one’s birth certificate.”
“A younger teaching generation is pushing and has been pushing that our kids can be any gender they want to be,” stated Sharla Tinsen, another supporter of the board majority. “This is biologically incorrect.”
Roughly 75 local residents voiced their support for the new policies over the course of the evening, and some 115 members of the community opposed the new policies, calling them “bigoted” and claiming they promote “censorship,” with some singling out specific trustees.
GCISD resident Jessica Raggian accused Trustee Shannon Braun of “bragging and boasting” and making “derogatory” statements against other board members in two opinion pieces Braun wrote for The Dallas Express.
Methodist pastor Andrew Fiser called the new policies part of a “white nationalist fascist agenda,” and claimed the board was “beating up on LGBT students, on children, to get [their] agenda passed.”
Another resident opposed to the board majority, Stanton Hoffman, calculated that approximately 130 LGBTQ students in GCISD were currently at risk of committing suicide, based on national surveys polling youth.
“This policy is going to kill kids. Know that,” he said.
Following the public comment component of the agenda, trustees were able to make brief remarks before each vote.
Trustee Jorge Rodríguez criticized the policies and accused the board majority of declaring a “war on teachers” and alluding to some trustees keeping a teacher “hitlist.”
“Now we have a war against librarians. A war against LGBTQ+ students and teachers,” he said.
Ultimately, the board majority passed its proposals.
In an opinion piece published by The Dallas Express on Tuesday, Braun celebrated the adoption of the new policies:
“Last night was the culmination of a community-led reform to take back our public schools from the social engineers and propaganda pushers who for too long have had free reign over the minds of our children.”
Despite lingering tensions surrounding how some sensitive topics are handled at GCISD, the district boasts an impressive four-year graduation rate of 96% for the high school class of 2022, well above the 88.5% clocked by Dallas ISD the same year.