Last school year, Fort Worth Independent School District paid for music teachers to attend a training course teaching them how to foster an “inclusive” classroom environment.

FWISD administrators say they have since discontinued the training.

The training course was titled “Blurring the Binary: Teaching Transgender Students in the Music Classroom” and cost the district $500 per teacher.

During the 2022-2023 school year, at least 20 district music teachers attended and received credit for the course.

Many of the teachers listed are FWISD high school and middle school teachers, including Blake Glass (Western Hills High School), Bryson Robinson (Dunbar High School), and Scott Tilley (Arlington Heights High School – FWISD).

“Fort Worth ISD offered an elective professional development course titled ‘Blurring the Binary’ for music teachers,” the district’s Communications Coordinator, Cesar Padilla, told Texas Scorecard. “This course provided information on various music education topics, including vocal health, singing pedagogy, and considerations for transgender students in areas like uniforms.”

“The intention was to equip educators with the knowledge needed for an inclusive music classroom environment,” Padilla said. “The course will not be offered during this 2023-24 school year.”

Blurring the Binary” was created by a male-to-female transgender individual who goes by the name Melanie Stapleton.

Stapleton created the training course because, as a male-to-female transitioner, when puberty hit, his voice deepened, and he went from a soprano to a bass singer. He said he then had to move and sing with the men instead of the women, which made him depressed.

Stapleton’s “Blurring the Binary” course instructs music teachers on how to be more “inclusive” and “affirming” to students with gender dysphoria in the music classroom.

The training instructs teachers on how to use a child’s “preferred pronouns,” to not use a child’s “dead name” from their biological sex, to allow a child to wear “what makes them feel comfortable” in the classroom, and to “be empathetic and find ways to support” a gender-confused child even if it means doing something that isn’t “necessarily ‘vocally best.’”

The training also provided research on what hormone replacement therapy does to a child’s voice, including unnaturally or uncomfortably deepening or highering the voice.

It warns teachers that a gender dysphoric student may wear a chest binder or corset/waist trainer, which could affect their ability to sing or stand for long periods. However, teachers were instructed not to ask a student if they were wearing one of these items.

Teachers were also told not to tell parents if their child informs them that they are trans or want to use a different name.

Hollie Plemons, a mom and activist in Fort Worth, told Texas Scorecard she wants to know if the district has “gone back to all those teachers on the list and let them know that is illegal and is not the practice of FWISD.”

The training concluded with “final thoughts” from Stapleton:

  • Educating yourself is your own responsibility, not the students’.
  • You can find all of this information and more (rooming during trips, help with unsupportive parents/admin, etc.) in greater detail along with resources for you and your students on my website.
  • You may be the only individual in a trans student’s life who supports them.
  • Know that it’s okay to make mistakes.
  • Apologize > Vow to do better > Do better.
  • Never assume.
  • Be kind, patient, positive, and understanding.
  • When in doubt, ask for help!

The information about this training course was obtained through an open records request from Plemons. Plemons told Texas Scorecard she is currently waiting for the rest of the request to be fulfilled and further information to be released.

Soli Rice

A journalist for Texas Scorecard, Soli is a new Texan with a passion for politics. She's excited to hone her writing skills and help spread truth to Texans.