Teachers, community members weigh in on Round Rock ISD student health recommendations

Teachers and community members weighed in on recommendations made by the School Health Advisory Committee. (Community Impact Staff)
Teachers and community members weighed in on recommendations made by the School Health Advisory Committee. (Community Impact Staff)

Teachers and community members weighed in on recommendations made by the School Health Advisory Committee. (Community Impact Staff)

A recommendation for mandatory staff training to support LGBTQIA students brought criticism and praise during the Round Rock ISD May 20 board meeting.

This recommendation comes from the district’s School Health Advisory Committee and its Human Development and Sexuality Subcommittee. It is part of the committee’s annual recommendations to the district, accompanied by additional recommendations to create a committee to explore health education options for middle schoolers and transition from using urinals to all toilets in new construction, among others.

SHAC member Claudio Cruz spoke against the committee’s recommendation, saying that singling out LGBTQIA students may open them up to bullying.

“By pinpointing, I think, training as far as gays are concerned, is singling them out for potential bullying [and] discrimination, and we should view all our students with dignity and respect,” said Cruz, a former Round Rock ISD board member who currently serves on the SHAC as a community member.

Austin Boriack, an eighth grade science teacher at Canyon Vista Middle School, said LGBTQIA training would benefit both staff and students.

“This recommendation comes at a time when our LGBTQIA students perpetually face issues of bullying, harassment, low self esteem, conflicting home dynamics, silencing and erasure by students and staff members,” Boriack said.

Place 1 Trustee Jun Xiao criticized the recommendation to switch from urinals to toilets, saying that it is not just a mental health issue, but a hygiene issue.

“It's not just not just about mental health, whatever those things, to me is just, it doesn't make sense to move every bathroom to toilets,” Xiao said. “I believe I'm not alone in this opinion.”

He also said the SHAC lacked Asian-American representation and he wants to see more diverse appointments for the next committee.

Trustees Cory Vessa and Danielle Weston said they were not ready to discuss the SHAC’s recommendations until there were improvements to the committee’s transparency practices. Weston cited the lack of minutes in the committee’s annual report, which was provided ahead of the meeting, as well as meeting notice postings, where the time and location were unclear.

“I am not inclined to support any changes to our sex ed curriculum, as long as the public has a very hard time getting access to information about what's being discussed,” Weston said.

Mandy Estes, RRISD chief of teaching and learning, who facilitated the SHAC discussion, said the board does not typically respond to SHAC recommendations until August of that year.

“A board response is typically given in August,” Estes said. “[The recommendations] don’t require individual votes.”

Board President Amy Weir requested that the recommendation to change the ratio of counselors to students from 404:1 to 250:1 as well as any other recommendations related to the district’s budget be added to the June 3 agenda when the board will discuss the budget. No vote was taken by the board regarding these recommendations.

Starting June 2, board meetings will return to in person in the Round Rock High School auditorium. These meetings will be open to the public.
By Brooke Sjoberg
Brooke Sjoberg is the Round Rock reporter for the Round Rock and Pflugerville/Hutto editions of Community Impact Newspaper. She worked for The Gonzales Inquirer, The Daily Texan and The Daily Dot among other publications before coming to Community Impact. Brooke is from Seguin, TX and graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 2020. Her last name is pronounced Show-burg.