Gender identification is an issue that has ruptured societal norms in recent years -- perhaps even inside Coppell’s schools -- carving a clear divide between those who feel that places like restrooms should be gender neutral and those who see that as a potential threat.
In Coppell, children have allegedly been permitted to use the restroom of the gender they identify with, according to resident and school board candidate Ron Hansen.
“This past week I learned from multiple sources that CISD is allowing children to use the restroom of the gender they identify with,” Hansen wrote in a blog post. “This means little boys and little girls can co-mingle as they please in the elementary bathrooms. Unfortunately, parents were not informed of this new policy, and there have been some unfortunate events and consequences already.
CISD was unable to release information about potential specific incidents citing FERPA laws.
“I can’t believe that this sort of thing is happening in this once conservative community,” Hansen said. “I can’t believe that CISD did not communicate with parents, forewarning them of a change in policy and potential danger. Children should have the right to use the restroom (without) fear of seeing inappropriate things or being educated beyond their years.
"Social experimentation should not take place in our public schools. In my opinion, full adoption of extremely liberal policies without the knowledge or consent of impacted parents is tragically wrong.”
As of this time, CISD does not have a specific policy that governs issues related to transgender students, said spokeswoman Amanda McCune. However, the issue of bathroom use in these situations is handled case by case.
“However, all students are governed by Coppell ISD Board policies ... which prohibits discrimination and provides an equal opportunity to all students. The district is committed to following current state and federal law,” McCune said.
Texas lawmakers are reviewing proposed legislation that would, essentially, prohibit transgender students from using the bathroom of their choice.
“The district will review any guidance issued by both state and federal agencies and make any changes necessary to comply with the law,” McCune said. “It is our hope that the lawmakers in the state of Texas will take action soon to clarify and define the current state of the law. The district has been and will continue to comply with federal and state laws and regulations, if any, with regard to student rights, which currently includes equal access for all students.”
Students are not permitted to indiscriminately use the bathroom of their choice, McCune said. Arrangements would be made at the administrative level with parents, should the need arise.
Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD similarly has no specific policy about transgender student bathroom usage at this time.
"We work one on one with individual students and families to meet the needs of each student," said spokeswoman Angela Shelley. "With safety and privacy in mind, we develop a plan when appropriate.
She said no concerns regarding specific incidents have been reported to the district as of now.
Back in Coppell, Hansen asserts this is an issue of child safety, not of LGBT issues. He also claims to have received hate mail and messages from certain groups regarding his missive.
“My opponent (Thom Hulme), who has been on the school board for nine years, obviously knew about this revolting policy and did nothing,” he said. “Elementary children as young as kindergarten (age) have seen things no child should be subjected to.”
Hulme said the school district is complying with law and overarching CISD board policies.
“If any policies related to transgender students are considered or adopted by the board in the future, I am confident that those policies will be addressed in a transparent and open manner …,” Hulme said.
He also noted his displeasure with some of the recent accusations going around, including by legislative representatives, though Hulme did not mention names. Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R-Dist. 115), whose district includes Coppell, did not return requests for comment about the issue. However, in a reply to Hansen’s blog post on a Facebook page Rinaldi indicates that he has received complaints about the matter.
"As a final note, I am appalled our legislative representatives and anyone running for school board would want to shame, intimidate and create scurrilous innuendo about private matters being handled with decency and care," Hulme said. "To use our children as political pawns is absurd and outrageous.
"I want to balance respect for all of our kids, to a person, with each individual’s need for privacy and safety. I can assure the public their board is handling this with thoughtfulness and responsibility," he said.
Board president Anthony Hill did not return requests for comment as of press time.