The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas filed federal civil rights complaints Aug. 10 against Keller ISD and Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts, a fine arts public charter school in Fort Worth.

The big picture

According to a news release from the ACLU, it is calling for the U.S. Department of Education to open investigations into both organizations for alleged Title IX civil rights violations for adopting anti-LGBTQIA+ policies.

The news release stated that the policies are part of a wave of attacks on transgender and nonbinary Texans, and the LGBTQIA+ community as a whole, including:
  • Students who seek to access medical care
  • Students who play sports
  • Students who participate in the arts
  • Students who receive an inclusive education
Quotes of note

“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, ACLU of Texas attorney.

Kempf added that the school boards in question have enacted policies depriving students of books that reflect their experiences. She also urged the federal government to intervene and end discriminatory policies before they can further harm and stigmatize LGBTQIA+ students.

“They’ve banned students from using the facilities and from participating in the activities that align with who they are, all the while subjecting them to harassment and bullying,” Kempf said. “No matter their gender identity, sexual orientation, race or religion, all students deserve to learn in an inclusive and welcoming educational environment.”

The details

According to the news release, Keller ISD board of trustees voted June 28 to enact a “Facility Standards” policy, which prohibits transgender and nonbinary students from using the restrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity; at that same meeting, the board also passed an “Identification of Students” policy, which allows and encourages teachers, staff and students to purposefully misgender transgender and nonbinary students at school.

A closer look

The ACLU release stated that these policies go against federal law.

This is the second time in less than a year that the ACLU has filed a complaint against Keller ISD. The first complaint was filed last November, after the Keller ISD board of trustees voted 4-2 to add books that discuss gender identity to the previously approved ban. In September 2022, the board approved a change to board policy EFB, which gives the trustees final approval of all material purchased for the school libraries.

What they're saying

"The Keller ISD Board of Trustees in June passed several policies, similar to those adopted by surrounding school districts, to protect students and staff in preparation for the new school year," the Keller ISD communication said in an email. "We understand that the ACLU of Texas posted on social media that it had filed a complaint with the Department of Education in response to these policies; however, the ACLU of Texas did not reach out to Keller ISD prior to making this announcement, nor has it since.

Keller ISD remains steadfast in providing education services, activities, and programming to prepare all of our students to be productive members of the community in which they learn, live and work."

Editor's note: The story was updated with comments from Keller ISD about the ACLU's complaints.