Federal Probe Targets Katy ISD’s Gender Policy for Potential Discrimination 

Photo Credit: Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle 

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has launched an investigation into Katy Independent School District (Katy ISD) to determine if its recently enacted gender identity policy discriminates against students. This investigation follows reports that Katy ISD disclosed the gender identities of 19 students to their parents without their consent shortly after the policy’s implementation in August 2023. 

The controversial policy, passed by a narrow 4-3 vote, mandates that staff notify parents if a student identifies as transgender or requests a name or pronoun change, with few exceptions. Additionally, the policy allows staff to refuse to use a student’s preferred pronouns and prohibits discussions about gender fluidity. 

The OCR enforces Title IX law prohibiting sex discrimination in federally funded education programs or activities. The student advocacy group Students Engaged in Advancing Texas filed a federal complaint, citing the policy’s discriminatory impact on transgender students. The complaint highlights the distressing case of Kadence Carter, a transgender student who dropped out of Mayde Creek High School due to bullying and misgendering by staff, exacerbated by the policy. 

Katy ISD’s Board President, Victor Perez, has defended the policy, claiming it aims to keep parents informed and protect teachers from uncomfortable situations. However, the policy has faced significant opposition from community members and advocacy groups, who argue it endangers student safety and well-being. 

The OCR’s investigation could lead to various outcomes, including a resolution agreement or mandatory corrective actions if non-compliance with Title IX is found. The investigation underscores the growing scrutiny and debate over policies affecting transgender students’ rights in schools.