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Restroom, pronoun policies garner civil rights complaints against Keller ISD, arts academy

Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts is one of two public charter schools in the Texas Center for Arts + Academics system.
Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts is one of two public charter schools in the Texas Center for Arts + Academics system.

The ACLU of Texas has filed two civil rights complaints against the Keller school district and the Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts, a public charter school, alleging that recently adopted policies on pronouns, restroom use and performing in choirs harm the LGBTQ+ community.

The ACLU of Texas said in a news release that the civil rights complaints were filed Thursday with the U.S. Department of Education, and that the organization is asking the federal agency to investigate.

The ACLU of Texas described the policies as “part of a wave of attacks” against transgender and nonbinary students and the LGBTQ community as a whole as students seek medical care, play sports, take part in fine arts and access an inclusive education.

“It is deeply disappointing that these North Texas school boards have targeted their transgender, nonbinary, and intersex students, who just want to feel as though they belong,” said Chloe Kempf, an ACLU of Texas attorney.

The Keller school district did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.

Paul Gravley, president and CEO of the Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts, said in an email, “We are looking into the complaint and have no further information or comment to provide at this time.”

The complaint against the Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts was filed on behalf of the family of a transgender and nonbinary child who wanted to join the Singing Girls of Texas choir with the support of the choir director.

The student was blocked from completing their audition, and the school board adopted a policy that requires students to perform with the choir that aligns with the sex assigned at birth.

In Keller, the school board voted in June to adopt policies that prohibit transgender and nonbinary students from using restrooms and other facilities that align with their gender identity, and teachers are not required to refer to students by their preferred pronouns.

The ACLU of Texas also filed a sex discrimination complaint against the Keller school district last November, alleging that Keller discriminated against the LGBTQ community by enacting bans on all library materials that discuss or depict what the policy calls “gender fluidity” for all grade levels.

This story was originally published August 11, 2023, 5:00 AM.

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