A Texas-sized battle over an urban school district's transgender-friendly bathroom policy

The bathroom wars rage on.

A battle over the Fort Worth, Texas, school district's newly enacted transgender-friendly bathroom policy -- which received no advance public hearing -- is front-page news today in both of the Metroplex's major dailies:

You can read the Fort Worth Star-Telegram story here and the Dallas Morning News story here. Rod "Friend of This Blog" Dreher of the American Conservative offers some insightful analysis here.

The lede from the Dallas newspaper:

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick again called for the resignation of the Fort Worth school superintendent on Tuesday, protesting his implementation of a bathroom policy for transgendered students. But he was greeted with boos and several area figures told him to butt out.
Fort Worth became ground zero in Texas’ political fight over transgender rights after Patrick demanded the resignation of Superintendent Kent Scribner, saying he implemented a district policy to support transgender students without properly consulting parents.
Hundreds showed up to get into the district’s regular Tuesday board meeting as the line wrapped around the building and down the block. Some held signs reading “Trans Rights Matter” while others simply had one word: Repeal.
A majority of the 20 speakers who had a chance to address trustees spoke in favor of the transgender policy. Those who opposed it had dozens of supporters in the room, too.

I read both stories in a hurry and am still digesting the intricacies of the Fort Worth debate as well as the news coverage.

Quick impression: Both stories quote sources on both sides and seem to do an adequate job of explaining the arguments involved.

However -- and maybe I'm totally wrong -- the Star-Telegram report seems less than impartial. Tell me if I'm off-base here.

The Fort Worth newspaper's lede:

FORT WORTH -- Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who has declared restroom regulation to be a priority for the next legislative session, brought his campaign to Fort Worth on Tuesday, repeating his call for the resignation of school Superintendent Kent Scribner and denouncing the district’s policy on accommodating transgender students.
In a news conference before the meeting, Patrick said that the district’s policy is an example of “social engineering” in public schools, and called for its repeal.
“This policy does nothing … to help students” prepare for their careers, he said.
As the board meeting began, Scribner walked in to a round of applause.
Scribner told the packed house that “this is not a bathroom issue.”
“Our children’s health and safety is the district’s top priority,” he said. “I, too, am the parent of a young lady in a Fort Worth ISD school.”
The district’s restroom policy was not on the board’s agenda, so no action was taken. But public comments were allowed and the meeting grew raucous at times, with one person being ejected.

Contrast the opening sentence's description of Patrick as one "who has declared bathroom regulation to be a priority for the next legislature session" with how the Star-Telegram portrays a supporter of the district's policy:

In a separate news conference outside the school administration building before the meeting, former Fort Worth City Council member Joel Burns said Patrick was “out of bounds” for “picking a fight” with the Fort Worth school district.
Burns, a nationally recognized anti-bullying advocate, called Patrick “a bully” and accused him of “coming here to cause” problems after calling on Scribner to resign on Monday.

So Patrick wants to regulate bathroom policies while Burns wants to protect children from bullies? Is there any chance the issue is more complicated than that?

Do the newspaper's descriptions strike you as simply factual or subtly editorial in nature? I ask in all sincerity.

The other thing I noticed about the Star-Telegram story -- in my quick reading -- was that the only two religious voices quoted support the superintendent's action.

First one here:

The Rev. David Wynn of Agape Community Church in Fort Worth urged compassion.
“Our trans students are the most vulnerable in our culture. They are the target of bullying, shaming and violence. …They are our neighbors, and they are our children,” he said.

Second one here:

The Rev. J. Scott Mayer, provisional bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, criticized Patrick for interfering with the school district.
“I urge the Fort Worth school board and its superintendent to remain strong in the face of this fear-mongering as they work for the welfare of all our children,” Mayer said in a statement.

Are there no religious people on the other side? Perhaps even one or two who oppose the new policy and voice compassion for bullied children? Maybe someone in a religious institution who is concerned about parental rights on this topic, since school leaders are instructed that they can, even should, hide the gender decisions of students from their parents?

Just asking.

Please respect our Commenting Policy