SAISD non-discrimination policy change triggers backlash

District says students wanted to see changes

SAN ANTONIO – Posters held high at a midday news conference Monday warned of “men in bathrooms with little girls.”

The signs spoke to the concerns of several groups in opposition to the updated San Antonio Independent School District non-discrimination policy adopted Aug. 21.

“This has nothing to do with bathrooms or showers or locker rooms,” said Leslie Price, the district’s spokeswoman. Price said in addition to prohibiting discrimination, harassment and retaliation by gender, religion or national origin, gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation are now included.

READ MORE: Mother wants transgender daughter to be able to use girls' bathroom in kindergarten

The policy now states:

The District prohibits discrimination, including harassment, against any employee on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, or any other basis prohibited by law. Retaliation against anyone involved in the complaint process is a violation of District policy.

The change also wants to protect against possible cyberbullying. However, Pastor Charles Flowers said in opposition, “These are our children, not yours. Our families have a moral set that is not guided by the school system.”

Allen Parker with the Justice Foundation said the updated policy was meant as “a blunt legal instrument to introduce transgenderism to all of the children in the district.”

Alejandra Mendoza, who listened to what was said at the news conference, said she agrees, “Once you give them a little leeway, they will take the whole way.”

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Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values, said some districts or governments who adopted similar policies “have admitted eventually that it’s because they want to the use the bathroom of their choice.”

However, Price said it was a student-led petition and their research into the issue that led to the expanded policy.

“We felt it was time to update our policy and let them know they are also protected for any kind of discrimination,” Price said. “It has nothing to do with facilities. That doesn’t change.”

Price said the district still requires students use facilities that match the gender on their birth certificates, but if the district is asked for additional measures to ensure privacy, “We’re going to work with them on a case by a case basis, single occupancy restrooms, as well as private changing areas, private showers, as much as possible.”

According to Equality Texas, SAISD is now the first school district in Bexar County to support LGBTQ protections.

Although not on the agenda Monday evening, Equality Texas supporters will address the school board along with opponents during citizens to be heard.

About the Author:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.