Longview, contiguous cities and counties undoubtedly understand the position Fort Worth residents have been placed in.
In 2014, former Longview Mayor Jay Dean sent a letter to the LGBT Community welcoming their first Gay Pride Festival. This action placed Longview as the LGBT hub of East Texas. It isn’t the East Texas way.
Here is an open letter to the Mayor of Fort Worth Betsy Price.
Unlike Jay Dean, I pray Mayor Price will listen to her constituency.
Dear Mayor Price,
We are parents and pastors, taxpayers and teachers. We are young, old, Democrat, Republican, African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and Caucasian. We are not outsiders. We are your neighbors. And we are nearly 80% of Fort Worth residents.
We love Fort Worth – and for lots of different reasons. We love all people. We love the big city with a small town feel. We love the Cowboys and Culture. We love the diversity of our city. We love that this is Where the West Begins. We also love that we have businesses with slogans like “Life’s Too Short to Live in Dallas.”
We know you love Fort Worth, too. Most of us love you. Many of us voted for you. You have selflessly served our city and represented it so well with a bright smile and approachable personality. You have made our city better and for that we owe you a debt of gratitude.
You are aware of the firestorm that was created when, on April 26, Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent Scribner announced his executive edict regarding transgender students without discussion or debate from parents or taxpayers. Fort Worth residents did not seek or provoke the battle that has since ensued. It was thrust upon us by a Superintendent who made an irresponsible decision affecting 86,000 students and all of their households.
We care about the safety and well-being of all students – including transgender students. We oppose this policy because it was adopted unilaterally by an unelected, unaccountable executive without public input or Board vote. And we oppose this policy because it compromises student safety, violates the parent-child relationship, and seeks to indoctrinate children in an agenda with which we disagree.
Unfortunately, since April 26, Superintendent Scribner has made more bad decisions that have isolated Fort Worth ISD as the only Texas school district out of nearly 1,270 to have adopted such an unlawful policy.
On May 8, he was given an opportunity to put out the fire when it was just a spark, and, as you know, he declined.
On May 9, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick called for repeal of the policy and Superintendent Scribner’s resignation. Since the State of Texas provides 54% of Fort Worth ISD’s funding, we found it appropriate for the majority investor to address this situation. The Superintendent and other local officials ridiculed the State’s intervention and bit the hand that feeds them.
On May 10, in front of hundreds who had come to express outrage at a Board meeting, Superintendent Scribner defended his policy, devalued the opponents, and divided our City. He also said you sent a note of support. We scratched our heads about your note but carried on.
On May 13, President Obama issued his infamous transgender directive. He attempts to bully Fort Worth ISD into complying by threatening to withdraw 1% of the District’s funds. Even if the District rejected federal funds, it would still have $23 million more next year due to local property tax revenue increases.
On May 18, media reported you as saying, “Dr. Scribner has done a good job, and this school board simply has to keep him. Whether he was correct on this policy or not, I don’t know, and that’s not for me to judge.” We moved from head scratching to head shaking.
By that point, both U.S. Senators from Texas, the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General, the entire Republican State Senate Caucus, and almost every State Representative from Tarrant County had denounced the Obama directive or the Fort Worth policy. People at every level of government had judged whether the policy was correct, so we were very surprised to hear that you couldn’t.
On May 23, media reported Superintendent Scribner’s administration had deceptively changed the rules on public comment at Board meetings so as to exclude opposing voices from being heard. We were extremely disappointed to learn this. This isn’t the Fort Worth way.
On May 24, another Board meeting was held and filled with another crowd of outraged parents and taxpayers. Superintendent Scribner again missed an opportunity to quell the growing fire of outrage. This ignoring of the public will is not the Fort Worth way.
On May 25, the State of Texas and eleven other states filed suit against the United States to stop the Obama directive. We remind you the Fort Worth ISD policy is worse than even the Obama directive. Being the inspiration for twelve states to sue the United States is not the Fort Worth way.
On May 31, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick asked the Attorney General for a legal opinion regarding the Fort Worth ISD transgender policy and whether Superintendent Scribner had the authority to unilaterally issue such a policy. Having the Attorney General investigate the legality of your actions is not the Fort Worth way.
On June 1, the Texas Education Agency confirmed it is investigating Superintendent Scribner. An agency investigation into our public servants is not the Fort Worth way.
Since May 6, Superintendent Scribner’s administration has denied open records requests asking for more information as to how these guidelines were formed and came into being. We are still waiting. This lack of transparency is not the Fort Worth way.
During the weeks of May 31 and June 6, six public forums were held. We did not see you at any of them. Perhaps you sent a representative. We hope you got the report. These public forums did much more harm to our city than good by creating more division. They did not reflect the Fort Worth way.
Before the public forums began, Board President Cinto Ramos, referring to the new policy, said to local media, “We don’t intend to change it.” The forums were never meant to seek parent or taxpayer input. They were designed to be a propaganda tour, as evidenced by the misleading Frequently Asked Questions distributed at each location. This is not the Fort Worth way.
We’ve now learned the transgender policy was written by a Dallas attorney. We know you don’t like Dallas folks coming over and meddling in Fort Worth affairs, so we know you understand when we say we don’t want a Dallas lawyer rewriting social norms for 86,000 Fort Worth children. This is not the Fort Worth way.
Superintendent Scribner now says he will appoint an advisory committee to make revisions to the transgender policy. He wants to fix a back room deal with another back room deal. But that reveals the heart of the issue. Most residents opposed to the policy do not trust Superintendent Scribner to appoint an impartial committee or to make sufficient revisions. And why should we trust him?
As we survey the past six weeks, we are disappointed and troubled. What began for Superintendent Scribner as a misguided policy adopted by an unlawful process has culminated in a pattern of bad decision-making that has broken the public’s trust. He has done permanent damage to Fort Worth. We had hoped he would transform our education system. He did – just not in the way we ever imagined. His future ability to effect change in our city will forever be tainted by how he has mishandled this matter and brought division to our city.
As of this writing, nearly 3,000 people have signed a petition calling for the repeal of the transgender policy. We have heard from Board members who have received between 1,200 and 2,000 emails and on average 80% are calling for the repeal of the transgender policy. These voices are important, and they are being ignored.
These people are part of a growing legion of outraged Fort Worth residents – many people who are appalled Fort Worth was one of the first places this happened in the nation and not the last. These residents are organizing from the North Side to Morningside and from Stop 6 to South Hills.
Superintendent Scribner must repeal the policy, start the conversation that never happened, and then put a policy to a Board vote. Summer is a perfect time to do this because no students will be affected. If Superintendent Scribner does not pursue this path, Fort Worth residents will ensure this episode is not forgotten.
Our hope is that you will side with the majority of Fort Worth residents. Will you join us as we Stand for Fort Worth?
Fort Worth residents