As citizens across Texas criticize school districts for using taxpayer dollars to send employees to learn about divisive ideologies, the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) held a week-long conference featuring sessions promoting critical race theory (CRT) and radical gender theory.

Earlier this year, the ASCA directed thousands of school counselors to the Austin Convention Center for its annual “No Limits” conference. The association provided a pre-written “justification letter” for teachers to send to their school administrators and asking them to pay for the registration fee and travel costs with taxpayer dollars.

Registration fees ranged from $259 for a one-day-only pass to $659 for a nonmember. However, a badge only provided access to the conference’s programming and did not cover meals, hotel fees, or other travel expenses, which school districts (meaning taxpayers) typically fund.

Attendees could choose from more than 150 breakout sessions, including presentations on “College & Career Readiness for LGBTQ+ Youth” and how to “Become an LGBTQ-Inclusive School.” One session focused on “Transgender Elementary Students” and encouraged school counselors to list “practices that support elementary transgender students.”

Current research literature focuses heavily on high school students who identify as transgender, nonbinary and gender fluid. Given the changing legal and regulatory landscape for school divisions to develop policies to support these students in alignment with national, state or local guidance, it’s important to also consider elementary students. Hear the voices of elementary transgender students to better understand their unique experiences.

Another presentation told attendees how to “Implement LGBTQ+ Affirming Policies,” calling the encouragement of gender confusion in children “Our Legal and Ethical Responsibility.”

“Heteronormativity in the educational environment can lead to practices and policies that don’t address the unique needs of LGBTQ students,” reads the session’s description. “The lack of inclusion can lead to negative outcomes and detachment from the school environment. Discover ways to advocate for inclusive policies and promote sensitivity and acceptance among staff, students and other educational stakeholders.”

Keynote speaker Gavin Grimm, a “transgender rights activist,” discussed “How School Counselors Can Support Transgender Students” and highlighted the influence of counselors.

“Sometimes a few kind words from a supportive adult can make a world of difference to a trans or nonbinary youth,” said the promotional materials. “Hear about the impact Gavin Grimm’s school counselors had on him when he was in the midst of the public spotlight and an ongoing battle with his school district, as well as further ways school counselors can support trans and nonbinary students.”

On social media, conference attendees shared one slide from a presentation that encouraged counselors to call students by their “preferred pronouns” and quoted statistics from The Trevor Project, an LGBT group some have called out for using unreliable data.

The ASCA is planning its next annual conference for July 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Concerned parents and citizens can contact their local school district to find out if they plan to send employees to the ASCA conference with taxpayer dollars.

Katy Marshall

Katy graduated from Tarleton State University in 2021 after majoring in history and minoring in political science.