Carlos Vasquez

The Fort Worth school board passed a new student conduct policy Tuesday that includes gender identity/expression in anti-retaliation, nondiscrimination and anti-harassment language. Sexual orientation was already protected.

Gender identity/expression had previously been included in FWISD policies for faculty and staff. Tuesday’s change makes Fort Worth the first district in Texas to protect students, staff and faculty based on both sexual orientation and gender identity/expression in conduct policy handbooks. Some districts, including Dallas, have added both sexual orientation and gender identity/expression to their anti-bullying policies.

The new FWISD policy was on the consent agenda, which means it passed without discussion along with other non-controversial changes.

Openly gay FWISD board member Carlos Vasquez said he was delighted the new policy passed on June 28, the second anniversary of the Rainbow Lounge Raid and the 42nd anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion.

He said the policy passed without public discussion but with some private discussions among board members.

“One didn’t know the terminology,” he said.

Vasquez said that before the policy passed for faculty and staff earlier this year, “We didn’t have a gay and lesbian teachers organization. Now we do.” While the policy doesn’t address bullying, he said it would affect bullying policy.

“If they violate the policy, they can be sanctioned and placed in an alternative school,” Vasquez said.

He said the district has a number of gay and lesbian principals and administrators. The only teacher he knew that would be covered by the new policy was a substitute who had some problems at one school where she worked.

“This settles that as far as policy is concerned,” he said. “This is a preventive policy to make sure people know we’re here to protect them.”

Fairness Fort Worth was instrumental in getting the policy passed, he said. He gave special credit to Tom Anable and David Mack Henderson for working with board members to get the policy passed.