KatyISD: Protect Your LGBTQ+ Students
KatyISD: Protect Your LGBTQ+ Students
Why this petition matters
To the KatyISD administration, school board, and local officials:
If you were to see a school ban on content under the category “Alternative Sexual Lifestyles”, you might think you were in the wrong century. Yet, the KatyISD internet filter had that very filter up until this school year.
This screenshot was taken on June 14, 2021 while at an extracurricular event on campus. We can confirm that this filter has existed since at least 2018, if not further back than that. Advocate is an LGBTQ+ news site, and restricting students from researching queer history and current events is antithesis to the critical thinking and research skills that KatyISD is trying to instill in its students.
The fact that this filter category even existed shows the deep prejudices within KatyISD administration. To declare all LGBTQ+ content as inherently inappropriate is discriminatory, and this behavior is unacceptable.
To be clear, this filter name has since been changed over the summer, potentially due to it being called out by local community members, but the filter itself still exists under the same conditions.
On August 20, 2021, this was a screenshot taken of the same website, but with a different filter name.
Changing the name of a filter to be more “politically correct” while still restricting the same content is not a change and only covers up discrimination with nicer looking crime scene tape. In case there is an argument to be made for the “Human Sexuality” filter being applied for any content that remotely discusses human sexuality, RAINN is not blocked on KatyISD WiFi, nor are websites about opposite-sex marriage blocked. We are not at all condemning the accessibility of RAINN, and we are extremely glad that the RAINN hotline is accessible; rather, we are disturbed by the double-standards set for LGBTQ+ content.
To further illustrate, Alex Jones’s InfoWars is not blocked on KatyISD WiFi, yet Advocate is blocked. Conspiracy theories on InfoWars have been repeatedly debunked, but there is no restriction against its false and inflammatory material while another news site focusing on LGBTQ+ news is restricted. It’s evident that KatyISD does not care about protecting students online, and instead chooses to use the internet filter for political reasons.
Among other blocked websites is the Human Rights Campaign, a 501(c)(3) organization campaigning in Washington DC for LGBTQ+ rights, shown here.
The Montrose Center, a Houston LGBTQ+ resource center offering counseling, youth/senior services, addiction treatment, HIV/AIDS care, anti-violence services, education, and more, is also blocked - shown here.
And perhaps most egregiously, The Trevor Project, a 24/7 suicide hotline and text service for LGBTQ+ youth nationwide is blocked - shown here. The Trevor Project should be given the same internet access that RAINN is given.
All of these screenshots were taken this school year. But don't take our word for it - for those of you who are students in KatyISD, try it for yourself. As of November 15, 2021, all of these sites were still blocked, and as of November 16, 2021, these sites were rendered inaccessible and did not load. Clearly, KatyISD administration only changed the name of the filter while rolling over all the websites to the new filter name. With such crucial resources for queer youth being restricted on school internet, it’s evident that KatyISD doesn’t care for the well-being of its students, particularly its most vulnerable.
Countless studies have shown the disparity between the mental health of queer youth and those of cisgender, heterosexual youth. Consider The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, which reports that 42% of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, among other concerning figures. Restricting resources for queer students is simply poor decision-making regarding student needs.
The “Human Sexuality'' internet filter is targeted specifically toward LGBTQ+ content, and this filter needs to go.
KatyISD needs to better protect its LGBTQ+ students. As one of the largest school districts in Texas, KatyISD sets the example for other districts, yet we lag behind in the area of LGBTQ+ inclusivity. Houston ISD, San Antonio ISD, Austin ISD, Fort Worth ISD, Dallas ISD, and more, have all included sexual orientation and gender identity in their non-discrimination statements. We ask you to protect LGBTQ+ students from harassment and discrimination just like all those other Texas school districts. We ask that you include this in the Discipline Management Plan, Student Code of Conduct, and non-discrimination statement on the KatyISD website.
It’s time that KatyISD adopted sexual orientation and gender identity into its non-discrimination statement as well.
This commitment to non-discrimination and anti-harassment sends a clear message that the district does not tolerate anti-queer behavior and that it values the queer staff and students in the district.
We, as students of KatyISD, call upon our school board and administration to better serve and protect its LGBTQ+ students. Dr. Gregorski, you lead one of the nation’s finest public school districts. You have the opportunity to improve our district even further so that all students can thrive in a safe and inclusive environment. We call on you to live up to this district’s motto - A Better Legacy. Show us that KatyISD can have a better legacy than being the district that had “Alternative Sexual Lifestyles (GLBT)” as an actual internet filter category. Show us that KatyISD can have a better legacy than being the district that outed Pride Club members to their parents with permission slips to be in the yearbook when no other club had one. Show us that KatyISD can have a better legacy than being the district who doesn’t care about the mental health and well-being of its LGBTQ+ students.
It's time KatyISD moves into the 21st century.
We ask that you 1) include sexual orientation and gender identity in the official KatyISD non-discrimination statement and 2) remove the “Human Sexuality” internet filter.
To the KatyISD community: we know some of you may have concerns about LGBTQ+ content in schools. While that is an incredibly important discussion, that is not the focus of this petition. This specific petition is not asking for queer history to be taught in the classroom, this petition is not asking for drag queen story hour, this petition is not opening up the bathroom debate. None of that is covered in what this petition is asking for. We are only asking for greater accountability within the KatyISD administration - it’s completely unacceptable that “Alternative Sexual Lifestyles (GLBT)” was even an internet filter category and that it was approved throughout the bureaucracy of the district management. It's unacceptable that this filter still exists, even under a different name. It’s unacceptable that we keep life-saving resources from queer students and that queer content is censored to a discriminatory degree. We are asking for queer students to be protected from harassment and discrimination, and we believe that our district should follow suit with other school districts that have already included sexual orientation and gender identity as a protected class under their non-discrimination statement.
To those of you who support our cause, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for signing. Please share and help us spread the word to show KatyISD that we truly care about the LGBTQ+ students in the district.
We are sincerely committed to listening to the community. If you would like to tell us your story, thoughts, opinions, questions, or more, please feel free to reach out to email@example.com. This account is run by students in KatyISD, and it is not affiliated with any school/district organizations, KatyISD staff, or KatyISD administration.
KatyISD, the nation is watching you. Your students are watching you. We hope you choose to build a better legacy.
In summary: We ask that you 1) include sexual orientation and gender identity in the official KatyISD non-discrimination statement and 2) remove the “Human Sexuality” internet filter.
Public Comment by Cameron Samuels to KISD Board of Trustees (11/15/21)
Social Media Infographics by Seven Lakes Democrats (11/16/21)
Houston Chronicle: Katy ISD blocks LGBTQ+ resources, suicide prevention websites from students (11/24/21)
ABC13: Katy ISD blocking websites with critical resources for LGBTQ youth (11/24/21)
Daily Kos: Students petition suburban Houston district to stop blocking websites with LGBTQ youth resources (11/25/21)
OutSmart Magazine: Activists Protest Katy ISD’s Ban on LGBTQ Resources (12/8/21)
Houston Chronicle: Division over LGBTQ+ books and websites continues at Katy ISD (12/13/21)
KPRC: LGBTQ students at Katy ISD call internet policy discriminatory, demand change (12/13/21)
ABC13: Katy ISD continues to block LGBTQ+ resource websites as student appeals for change again (12/13/21)
Houston Public Media: Katy ISD students speak out against LGBTQ website bans (12/14/21)
Telemundo: Páginas con contenido LGBTQ pone a Katy ISD bajo la lupa (12/14/21)
KHOU: Katy ISD reviewing LGBTQ-related websites after backlash over blocking them (12/14/21)
Queer News Tonight: Students in Texas School District Demand Change to Anti-LGBTQ+ Internet Policy (12/16/21)
OutSmart Magazine: KatyISD Continues to Block Most LGBTQ Websites (1/3/22)
Salon: At one Texas school, LGBTQ teens call onslaught of hostile laws "matter of life and death" (1/11/22)
Common Dreams: Queer Teens at Texas School Are Reaching Crisis Point (1/11/22)
Here Now: Access to LGBTQ+ Mental Health Resources Is a Matter of Life or Death (1/12/22)
OutSmart Magazine: Katy ISD Unblocks Four LGBTQ Websites (1/24/22)
Houston Chronicle: Katy ISD unblocks some LGBTQ+ sites, but not the Trevor Project (1/24/22)
Houston Public Media: Katy ISD unblocks some LGBTQ websites after public complaints, but others remain banned (1/25/22)
Raw Take Podcast: High School Students in Katy ISD should not be blocked from accessing LGBTQ+ online information (1/28/22)
NBC News: Banned Books on race and sexuality are disappearing from Texas schools in record numbers (2/1/22)
Texas Signal: Katy ISD Filter Blocks LGBTQ+ Websites (2/2/22)