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A Texas school district approved limits on books, critical race theory and gender identity

By Rebekah Riess, Raja Razek and Andy Rose, CNN

A school district board near Dallas, Texas, has passed a set of policies restricting how race and gender are addressed, including allowing teachers call students by pronouns that do not match their gender identity.

The Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School Board trustees passed the policies in a 4-3 voter late Monday night after several hours of public discussion.

Casey Ford, president of the school district board, said the policies were “overwhelmingly” based in Texas law.

“Many are taken directly from the education code and these policies are a reflection of Texas law and community values,” Ford said prior to the vote.

One of the new policies says district employees and students will not be required “to use a title or pronoun in reference to another person that is inconsistent with the biological sex of such person” as listed on their birth certificate or another government-issued record.

The district board also set rules for bathrooms.

“To the extent permitted by law, each multiple-occupancy bathroom or changing facility owned or operated by the District shall be designated for and used only by persons based on the person’s biological sex,” the policy states.

Other policies passed on Monday outlined how the board will be involved in the selection of library materials, noted how the district will be “avoiding inappropriate materials,” and restricted teachers and administrators from “teach, instruct, advocate, promote, or discuss any ideas, beliefs, concepts, theories, principles, rules, thoughts, or impressions that have any connection to, relationship with, refer to, are influenced by, or are otherwise consistent with so-called ‘Critical Race Theory’ or systemic discrimination ideologies.”

Becky St. John, one of the trustees who voted against the new policies, called them “an absolute affront” to the district’s teachers.

“I apologize to our poor staff that is going to have to come up with the administrative regulations in order to try to make this work on our 17 campuses. And I am so sorry for the students in our district, whose education is going to be stunted because of the poor fiscal management that these policies will result in,” she said.

The ACLU of Texas described the policies as “egregious” in a statement and said Texas students deserve better.

“These policies restrict access to an inclusive education, bring ‘Don’t Say Gay’ rules to Texas, and violate students’ First Amendment rights,” the group said.

“GCISD’s censorship and book banning policies will have an extreme and alarming chilling effect on classroom discussions about history and inequities related to race, gender identity, and sexual orientation. We support the students, parents, and staff fighting to stop it,” the group added.

More than 14,000 students attend Grapevine-Colleyville schools in the district located between Dallas and Fort Worth.

For more than a year critical race theory has sparked heated discussions and protests at school board meetings across Texas as state lawmakers passed legislation restricting how teachers discuss race and history in classrooms.

The ACLU of Texas has said the school district policy “goes even further” than the current state law.

The approval of the new policies comes nearly a year after a Black principal in the Grapevine-Colleyville school district was placed on leave and later agreed to leave his role following accusations of promoting critical race theory.

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CNN’s Nicole Chavez contributed to this report.

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