Monday night’s San Antonio ISD Board Meeting was packed with supporters and opponents of a recently enacted change to the districts non-discrimination policy. Some religious and conservative groups oppose the addition of gender identity and other classes while others welcomed the shift of what they say is a more inclusive policy.
On August 21st, the SAISD board added the words Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression to the district's list of protected classes under its non-discrimination policy. Monday night was the first public meeting since that decision. Nearly fifty peopled signed up to speak.
Gracie Oviedo is a 30 year employee with SAISD and member of the LGBT community.
“All my adult life in SAISD I read that non-discrimination policy and a part of my life was not covered. And so now with those words I am now covered legally to not be discriminated against,” She said.
Some groups say the change will allow students to use any restroom of their choosing. Many opponents wore yellow shirts and held signs saying there are only two genders. Jamie Rose Williams said the policy would lead to boys in girl’s restrooms.
“It doesn’t matter what you identify as, physically you’re not the same, and you shouldn’t traumatize other children by seeing what they’re not ready to see,” Williams added.
Others said it could lead to sexual assault.
SAISD spokeswoman Leslie Price says its policy change is not about restrooms. “This is has nothing to do our facilities. There’s no change in that. We’re not going to have boys going into girls showers, or girls going to boys showers, that’s just not going to happen and it has nothing to do with updating your discrimination policies.”
The policy reads as follows:
It is the policy of San Antonio ISD not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation or disability in its vocational programs, services or activities as required by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, and SAISD's board policies DIA, FFH, and FFI.
The group Texas Values said it had a petition of over 700 signatures ready to turn in favor of rescinding the policy change. The board did not take any action on its non-discrimination policy Monday night.
Texas Values held a press conference Monday afternoon in advance of the board meeting.
Equality Texas and other groups also head a press briefing shortly before the meeting began.