The Keller ISD school board was scheduled to vote on changes to their anti-discrimination policy Thursday night.
The recommendation would have added “to include protection on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression in addition to the categories already established in the policy.”
Over the last few days the administration has received a significant amount of input regarding the proposed language changes related to the KISD’s anti-discrimination policies. There have been many passionate pleas on both sides of the issue from parents, community members, and current and former students. The District’s sole intent in recommending the proposed changes was to ensure that all of our students feel protected by our policy language. The issue has become extremely polarizing, with the great potential of creating feelings of winners and losers. This was certainly not the intention of the District, as we strive to teach our students that by working together we can usually solve even the most challenging issues.
As an educational institution, our first priority is to provide a safe learning environment for all students. While the addition of language within a policy might provide an added layer of comfort to some of our students, we believe what is even more important than that are the actual processes that are in place in our schools to prevent and/or deal with instances of discrimination or harassment.
We are focused on developing quality citizens who understand the importance of engagement in our governing processes. While this set of policies went through our normal review process the responses we have received have convinced us that many of our constituents may have inaccurate perceptions regarding the purpose and impact of these proposed changes. Therefore, to better educate the public and continue seeking solutions that clearly identify our desire to protect all students and make them feel safe, we will pull this item from the agenda. In the coming weeks, the District will identify and broadly communicate a process for moving forward. We intend to create a forum for the conversation that can truly lead to solutions regarding any potential harassment.
We will use the momentum gained by this attention to focus on our efforts toward creating a culture of respect and kindness. As you may know, the District recently developed a program and initiated a movement in our schools called R.O.C.K. This acronym stands for Reaching out with Character and Kindness, and the program has already had a positive impact on many of our campuses. We know however, that we still have a long way to go.
Let me be clear, in Keller ISD we will continue our efforts to ensure that ALL our students are not only protected from harassment and discrimination, but that they also feel they are in a safe and welcoming educational environment. If policy language changes are determined to be needed for that to occur, they will be brought forth for the Board’s consideration.
Student Casey Akers told NBC DFW she is appalled the policy vote was postponed. She fought for the changes.
“I feel it is like it is a given everyone should be protected not matter your sexual orientation, your race or what gender you are. It’s just a given,” said Akers.
Some parents are worried about this policy.
Kristi Lisenbee told NBC DFW she thinks this opens the door to shared bathroom and locker rooms, along with changes in the sexual education curriculum.
Keller ISD said those practices won’t change, but she is still concerned.
“We believe it is morally and spiritually wrong. It is wrong for our kids. We need to stand up and protect the innocence of our children,” said Lisenbee.
Published at 6:06 PM CDT on Aug 13, 2015 | Updated at 10:40 PM CDT on Aug 13, 2015