Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick should take his nose back to Austin and stick it into matters that are his own business, not spend another minute in Fort Worth telling us who should run our public schools.
He can voice his opinion about whether transgender students in Fort Worth should be allowed to use the restroom of their choice. We don’t have to agree with him, and neither does the Legislature.
When Patrick says Kent P. Scribner should resign as superintendent of the Fort Worth school district for establishing strong guidelines about how students should be kept safe and treated with respect, the lieutenant governor is way out of line.
He should back off and let locally elected school board members supervise Scribner.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Star-Telegram
The nine trustees are fully capable of speaking out on any school issue with no help from Patrick. They accepted Scribner’s transgender guidelines without objection.
Should they need help, they can gain input from local residents who have a direct stake in their decisions.
The board adopted a policy in April 2014 that prohibits discrimination based on “race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, national origin, disability or any other basis prohibited by law that adversely affects the student.”
The guidelines laid out by Scribner last month tell school personnel how to comply with that policy with regard to transgender students.
Michael Steinert, assistant superintendent of student support services, told the Star-Telegram Editorial Board on Tuesday that school board members were given the guidelines in draft form early this year.
School board President Jacinto Ramos said trustees had “plenty of time” to review the guidelines and call for further discussion. None did.
“I know Lt. Gov. Patrick operates in a political environment,” Ramos said. “We as a board are focused on children.”
Steinert said the issue of restroom use by transgender students “doesn’t come up often, but it comes up every year.”
There’s no preset solution: Teachers and administrators handle each case individually. A student who is uncomfortable using the restroom with students of their birth gender might be told they can use a single-stall restroom, usually in the school nurse’s office.
Patrick made up a transgender impersonator scenario for WFAA/Channel 8: “a 15-year-old boy, full of the vim and vigor that every 15-year-old boy has, walking into the girls’ bathroom.”
That’s not likely, and it’s no more likely under Scribner’s guidelines.