Two commonsense policies that separate bathrooms and other personal spaces by birth sex, as well as prevent anyone from being forced to use particular pronouns, were among several policy changes approved by Keller Independent School District trustees during a special board meeting Wednesday night.

After almost two hours of public comments and board discussion, the policies passed 5-0.

Trustee Ruthie Keyes—the lone board member not swept out by pro-family challengers over the last three local election cycles—abstained.

“Common sense and grassroots activists prevailed at last night’s Keller school board meeting,” Fran Rhodes, a local resident and president of conservative grassroots group True Texas Project, said Thursday. “Students will continue to use the correct bathroom or locker room, and no one will be required to use pronouns or names they don’t want to use.”

Trustees previewed the two policies, along with several others, at the June 20 school board meeting, which drew heated public comments from people on both sides of the issues.

Rhodes was among about 50 parents and community members who showed up again on Wednesday night to speak on the new policies.

“Our students deserve to have their safety and privacy protected in school facilities … and parents deserve to know their children are safe at school,” Rhodes told trustees. “Regarding the pronouns, no one should be forced to use language which is contrary to their personal beliefs. … District policy should not force the use of specified pronouns on anyone.”

Opponents, some from outside the district, claimed the policies would “actively harm” students who identify as the opposite gender and cause them to commit suicide.

“This is a manipulative lie that shows a basic ignorance of what the policy says and highlights the mental health crisis many are experiencing today,” said Keller ISD mom Jennifer Payne.

All the new policies approved Wednesday night take effect immediately.

“I’m excited not just for these two policies, but for the suite of policies that was included in here,” said Board President Charles Randklev. “I think they basically lay the groundwork for protecting kids and educators. I also think they help us get off to a good start for the upcoming school year.”

Keller resident Tom Cobb agreed.

“Thank you for charting a new course for this district,” Cobb told trustees. “It is the right course. It is a course the residents of this district voted for.”

Trustees also named the district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum, John Allison, as interim superintendent until the board finds a permanent replacement for Superintendent Rick Westfall. Following this May’s school board elections, Westfall announced that he was retiring effective June 30, though he will stay employed by the district through the end of 2023.

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.