Dear Cishet Parents of Cishet Kids

Dear Cishet Parents of Cishet Kids

Dear Cishet Parents of Cishet Kids: (BTW: If you don’t know what cishet means, thanks for being curious: Cishet means you are both cisgender and heterosexual, aka: identify as the gender you were assigned at birth, and attracted to people of the opposite gender.)

If you’ve been supportive, yet silent in your support of trans kids and families, it’s officially time to upgrade your game from ally to accomplice.

Legislators are playing a political game that is putting the lives of your friends, neighbors, and classmates at risk. Greg Abbott has given free reign to Family and Protective Services in Texas to investigate all trans children and prosecute their parents as child abusers.

Teachers, doctors, and caregivers now have free reign to report any trans student (even though they are technically under no legal obligation to since Abbot’s letter is non-binding.) That student could be interviewed or put into “protective custody” while they’re being investigated. PARENTAL CONSENT IS NOT REQUIRED – Parents may not even be notified of the interview.

The only reaction to this situation is under-reaction at this point. We all need to be doing something. And don’t assume that if you don’t live in Texas that you’re safe. This is just a dress rehearsal for what’s to come if we don’t stop this now.

To start with:

1. Call your friends with trans kids. Check on them. Love on them. This is as scary as it gets as a parent. Imagine for one moment someone being able to take your kids away simply because you see them and love them for who they are.

2. Speak up. Many parents of trans kids do not feel safe putting a spotlight on their child or their family. You have the emotional distance to be a megaphone for their voices. Let them hear and see you supporting their kids. This doesn’t have to be in a formal setting. Speak up a wine nights. Speak up at the pick up line at school. The more others see you speaking up, the more comfortable they will be to do the same.

3. Show up. Parents of trans kids can’t be the only ones showing up at the capitol & school board meetings to defend their kids. Aside from not always being safe physically, or emotionally, they are busy parents, just like you. Allies need to be “relief pitchers” to show up in physical spaces to provide trans kids and their families space to heal from the ugliness and have the luxury of doing the same family things you want to do with your kids.

4. Be a safe space. Sure, rainbow tshirts and Facebook flag backgrounds can often be virtue signaling, but they can also help indicate you’re a safe space. Want to be more clear that you’re a safe space? Tell people. Let parents of trans kids know that you’re a safe carpool partner, home base if there’s an encounter at a bus stop, phone to call if they need an emergency pick up, or just someone to listen.

5. Support comprehensive, LGBTQ+ inclusive sex ed. Kids don’t grow up to be Greg Abbott when they’ve learned to treat classmates with dignity and respect.

6. And of course, get political! This means calling your representatives. Don’t know who represents you? Here you go! This also means VOTE – and not just for presidents – The school board votes you cast may be the most important decisions you ever make for your kids.

7. Stay informed. If you’re in Texas, join us at Informed Parents of Austin

New Texas Law = Big Changes in Austin ISD Sex Ed

New Texas Law = Big Changes in Austin ISD Sex Ed

In 2020, for the first time in over 20 years, the State Board of Education of Texas (finally) revised its sex ed curriculum standards. The newly adopted TEKS for Health Education can be found here, but for the most easily digestible source of what this all means for you and your students, check out the Texas Is Ready site.

There were also big changes this Legislative session. Jen Biundo from Texas Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy did such an amazing write up for Texas is Ready that recaps the new sex ed changes across Texas, that we’re just going to call out some highlights here but direct you to her article for the most comprehensive information you need to know.

As a refresher, on October 28, 2019 the AISD Board of Trustees unanimously approved revised comprehensive and LGBTQ+ inclusive human sexuality and responsibility lessons for third through eighth grade students, which were scheduled to be implemented in May, 2020. Due to covid and the complexity of ensuring that students at home were only viewing the lessons for their intended grade, the lessons were put on hold for the 2020-2021 school year. All lessons are available online at the AISD website.

At long last, there were high hopes that 2021-2022 would finally be the year when Austin students received comprehensive, medically accurate, LGBTQ-inclusive health lessons….and they still can….but now you need to specifically ASK for them.

Yes, thanks to some bad bits of failed SB 442 and SB 1083 being added into school finance bill HB 1525, there are some new significant hurdles to Texas students receiving comprehensive health lessons.


Instead of the reasonable option of parents who don’t want their kids to receive sex education (based on the AISD survey with 5500+ respondents, that’s around 5% of guardians, or 1-2 students per classroom) opting out of the lessons, school districts must now get written permission from the 95%+ of parents or guardians who want their children/students to receive sex education. Yes. You must now OPT IN to sex ed.

This is a brand new law. Many parents and guardians will not know this and many students will slip through the cracks, especially students who are being sexually abused by guardians who don’t want them to have access to the information that could help them know how to reach out for help.


Although our top priority right now is raising awareness about the new OPT IN requirements for the lessons that have already been approved for grades 3-8, please note that the Austin ISD SHAC (School Health Advisory Council) has been actively reviewing, (and approving) new health lessons for grades K-2 that are now in jeopardy due to new requirements included in the same HB 1525 mentioned above.

Although we strongly support district transparency with curriculum and parents & guardians having ample time to review and provide feedback on curriculum changes, the requirements of this law will likely also present additional hurdles that make it harder for comprehensive sex ed, or even any kind of sex ed, to be passed on many districts. Those who oppose sex ed will be attending these additional meetings in full force and we’ll be asking you to help us to the same to speak up in support of empowering students with the information they need to be healthy now, and throughout their lives.

For specific changes, please visit the District Adoption Process section at Texas is Ready.


As shared in the Texas is Ready write up, “School Health Advisory Councils (SHACs) are volunteer groups of parents, community members, and school staff and are charged with ensuring that community values are reflected in health education. SHACs make recommendations on many areas of student health, but because one of their duties is making recommendations to the school board on sex education curriculum, they have become something of a lightening rod for groups opposed to sex education.” We have also written about SHACs here and here.

The biggest part here is that “notification of all SHAC meetings must be posted 72 hours in advance. Additionally, audio or video recording of the meeting and meeting minutes must be submitted to the school district and posted online if the district has a website.” Our AISD SHAC already posts the notifications and posts meeting minutes. Our SHAC meetings have been online during covid and have started being recorded. Although some are fine with this given the “public meeting” nature of SHAC meetings, due to past experiences with aggression from the public which even required additional security for SHAC members at one point, it is understandable that others are hesitant to be so physically visible in a recording available to the public. You can read more about the new law, and some scary parts that were fortunately left out of the final version here under the School Health Advisory Council section.


Last but not least, HB 1525 made some changes about how sex ed lessons need to be made available to the public.

  • For sex education materials that are in the public domain, school districts must post materials online, if they have a website.
  • For curriculum materials that are copyrighted and not in the public domain, districts must allow parents to inspect the curriculum at their home campus or review the materials electronically in a secure manner that doesn’t allow them to be copied.

Austin ISD has always made sex ed materials available at the libraries of each school in the district and for the past two years they have also been available online. You can see them here.

For in depth, continued information on comprehensive sex ed that’s inclusive of LGBTQ+ students, please be sure to follow

Texas Is Ready

Texas Freedom Network

Equality Texas

and all of our wonderful community partners can be found here.

Don’t Wait to Become An Ally

Don’t Wait to Become An Ally

The first step in becoming an ally is getting Informed. We’re so glad that you’re here to gather information to help ensure that LGBTQ+ students feel safe and respected in your home, school and community.

Find links to all of the 2021 AISD Pride Week sessions at

In the “Don’t Wait to Become an Ally” session, we discussed four primary areas where we all can continue to strive to be better allies:

  • Being a visible ally
  • Supporting students who come out
  • Responding to anti-LGBTQ language/behaviors
  • Supporting school clubs such as Gay/Straight Alliances

Urgent ally action is needed this week as dangerous anti-transgender bills are being voted on in the Texas legislature. Your best sources for the most current information are Equality Texas, TENT (Transgender Education Network of Texas) and the Texas Freedom Network. You can link to all of their social networks from their websites.

Additional local LGBTQ+ resources can be found on our resources/partners page.

Below are links to the information shared with each group so you can refer to your group’s materials at a later date or dive deeper into the materials that other groups reviewed. All materials and links we have shared are from GLSEN’s educational materials for educators. GLSEN offers a wide variety of training for educators to help improve school climate and personal outcomes for LGBTQ+ students.

The complete GLSEN Safe Space Kit materials are available here.

Also read 6 Things LGBTQ Youth Want Allies to Do this Pride

Read more

Get Informed About AISD’s New Human Sexuality & Responsibility Curriculum

Get Informed About AISD’s New Human Sexuality & Responsibility Curriculum

If your school is like my son’s, you may encounter people handing out these flyers or leaving them on windshields during school drop-off and pick up.

Those of us who love and support LGBTQIA+ students may read this list as a “thank goodness they’re covering this stuff!” list, but the people who created the list are using it to try to spread fear and misinformation.

AISD elementary and middle schools are each holding information sessions for parents to learn more about the revised K-8 human sexuality & responsibility curriculum. Please attend to show your support for comprehensive sex ed that’s inclusive of the needs of LGBTQIA+ students and to make sure you have information straight from the source to help shut down these misinformation campaigns by anti-LGBTQ groups.

If you need a reminder of just some of the reasons why comprehensive sex ed is so important for students of all ages, click here.

And when people tell you you should “Opt Out and Sit Out” of sex ed, just say you choose to Opt In and Stand Together with AISD and LGBTQ students.

It’s up to all of us to Get Informed & Get Involved. You can learn more about how you can get informed and involved at our private Facebook group or on our public Facebook page.

Learn more from the AISD website and from your school administration.


How Can I Make My School LGBTQ Inclusive?

How to Make Classrooms More LGBTQ Inclusive

In the Informed Parents of Austin Facebook Group, the question comes up a lot about how parents and teachers can make sure that they are helping create a safe and inclusive learning environment for LGBTQ students.

I wish I could take credit for having a fabulous list of suggestions, but the truth is there are amazing organizations and writers covering this exact subject on a regular basis. In fact, GLSEN has an entire section of their website dedicated to the most granular level of inclusion topics for educators and you can find them all right here.

Since parents and teachers are some of the busiest people in the world, I’m going to do some cherry-picking of the easiest and most turn-key tips that you can put in place right away. I do encourage you to take a deep dive into the materials I link to though since many of us who are CIS-gender & hetero allies often aren’t aware of the level of discrimination present in even the most seemingly “everyday” parts of the education system.

Read more

Get Informed and Involved In Your School District

Get Informed and Involved In Your School District

On February 25th, Austin ISD’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously on a revised human sexuality curriculum scope and sequence which would finally guarantee students across the district access to science-based, comprehensive sex-ed that is inclusive of LGBTQ students.

The fight is far from over though as the board will be voting on the final lessons plans in May or June. Be sure to follow our Facebook Page & Facebook Group to learn how you can help support us at these important meetings.

Since that meeting, we have received many requests from parents in other school districts all around Texas, and across the country, who want to know if Informed Parents of Austin can help them get comprehensive, inclusive sex ed and LGBTQ inclusion policies in their school districts.

Yes, and no.

Yes, we can provide you with a toolkit of all the important things we’ve learned these past couple of years so you can hit the ground running and start getting parents in your community Informed and Involved today.

But, no – we can’t do the work for you. The only thing that made this change a reality was local parents showing up and doing the work. Whether writing letters to the school board or showing up at SHAC meetings, there is no short cut. As much as I would love to show up to all of your district’s board meetings, the trustees from each district only want to hear from parents and guardians in their district.

The good news: the work itself is not “hard.” Sure, you may have to show up to a meeting for a couple hours once a month, but if you can make time for a Netflix binge night, you can make time to ensure that all students in your school district have a health curriculum that helps keep them mentally and physically safe and healthy.

We’re in the process of working on our toolkit now, so sign up below if you would like to be notified as pieces are added and be sure to follow us on Facebook and join our Facebook group. (Please note that due to an increased level of questionable group requests, we are being extra diligent in our screening.)

In the meantime, go to Google and search your district’s School Board and SHAC meeting dates as well as your school’s Campus Advisory Council meeting dates and put them on your calendar. Look up their public comment policies and get comfortable speaking for two minutes in support of ALL students in your district. Don’t worry, our toolkit will have lots of talking points to help get you started.

Thanks for your interest and thanks for all you do to support ALL students in your district.


Dear Dr. Cruz – Austin Students Need Comprehensive, Medically Accurate Sex Ed NOW

Dear Dr. Cruz – Austin Students Need Comprehensive, Medically Accurate Sex Ed NOW

Dear Dr. Cruz,

I was disappointed to receive a letter from Dr. Goodnow stating that despite an overwhelmingly favorable vote on the SHAC Health Subcommittee’s recommendation to move forward with the proposed revised human sexuality and responsibility curriculum, there will be a one-year delay in implementing this curriculum.

I was at the June 6th SHAC meeting where the proposal was presented and have been at almost every SHAC meeting during the 2017-18 school year. During the public comment period of each of these meetings, I have used my two minutes to share my support, as well as the support of the almost 1,000 members of the Informed Parents of Austin Group, for comprehensive sex education that is inclusive of the needs of LGBTQ students.
Read more

It’s Time For You to Go to a SHAC Meeting

It’s Time For You to Go to a SHAC Meeting

One of the most powerful actions you can take to support LGBTQ kids and families in your school district is to attend your district’s SHAC meetings.

SHAC stands for School Health Advisory Council. In addition to doing important things like making sure our kids have healthy lunches and excellent physical education programs, SHAC boards also guide school districts’ policies on LGBTQ inclusion and preparedness/sensitivity training for teachers as well as age-appropriate sex-ed programs for students.

We focus a lot on the Austin Independent School District in this group, but the fact is that ALL school districts have SHACs, and no matter where you live, if you care about defending your kids against vocal anti-LGBTQ groups and groups demanding abstinence only “sex ed” then you need to start getting involved in these meetings, or even sign up to be a SHAC board member.

I’m listing the contact information for the SHACs in the Austin area here, but please take a moment to google “__________ SHAC” (with the _______ being your school district) to find their meeting dates or even sign up to be considered for the board.

If you’re a little introvert and nervous about attending (like I was,) I’ve put together a little “How to Attend a SHAC Meeting” about how our meetings in AISD work.  I’m guessing they are similar in other districts, but this at least will help give you the assurance that they are not scary. You do not need to talk. You just need to be there, and be informed.

Austin Independent School District
SHAC General Info
Sign Up to be a SHAC Board Member

Lake Travis Independent School District
SHAC General Info
Sign Up to be a SHAC Board Member by contacting your school’s principal or contacting Kathleen Hassenfratz at 512-533-6041 or at

Leander Independent School District
SHAC General Info
Sign Up to be a SHAC Board Member by contacting Sr. Executive Director of Student Services Brad Mansfield at

Round Rock Independent School District
SHAC General Info
Sign Up to be a SHAC Board Member

Eanes Independent School District
SHAC General Info
Sign Up to be a SHAC Board Member by contacting Linda Rawlings, Director of Student Support Services, (512) 732-9020 or .

Pflugerville Independent School District
SHAC General Info
Sign Up to be a SHAC Board Member by using this general contact form for the district.

DelValle Independent School District
SHAC General Info
Sign Up to be a SHAC Board Member by contacting Health Services at 512-386-3073

Manor Independent School District
SHAC General Info
Sign Up to be a SHAC Board Member by contacting Student and Family Support Services Director Becky Lott at (512) 278-4462 or  Health Services Coordinator Lynda Townsend at (512) 278-4093

Hays Independent School District
SHAC General Info
Sign Up to be a SHAC Board Member


I am not sure about your district’s SHAC meetings, but ours are regularly visited by vocal members of groups specifically designed to shame and block the rights of the LGBTQ community. Our general rule is to not engage with these people and to focus your efforts on the SHAC board members who have the power to influence change.

If your district is like ours, and already has programs that support the rights for ALL students, then simply show them your appreciation and offer your support for future programs.  If your district does not have programs in place that support equal rights for LGBTQ students and families, join our group, and we’ll get you the resources to help.


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How to Attend An AISD SHAC Meeting

One of the most effective ways to let key decision makers at AISD know that you support initiatives that support the LGBTQ+ community is to attend the monthly SHAC meetings and sign in as representing “Informed Parents of Austin.”

It can be a bit confusing and intimidating the first time you attend any new gathering, so here is a quick overview of what to expect when you attend a SHAC meeting.

Know where & when to go: The meetings are the first Wednesday of every month from 6:30pm – 8:00pm in a meeting room at the new AISD Headquarters located at 4000 S. IH-35 Frontage Road, 78704 unless specified otherwise.  (See map below)

Someone will be at the main door to provide access and directions to the meeting room on the 2nd floor The full schedule, agenda for the upcoming meeting and minutes from past meeting are all available here. Always check for the latest information here before attending.

When You Arrive: There will be a table with a sign up sheet, agendas as well as the Speaker & Comment cards.  At the beginning of each regular meeting of a district advisory body, time will be provided for public comments.

At the time of this post, the SHAC public comment period is typically 10-15 minutes, and speakers are usually allowed 2 minutes each. Speakers may be asked to sit in a designated area until called upon by the presiding officer to speak.

You can read all the Communication Rules here, but here’s the most important part: “Persons wishing to provide public comments will be asked to fill out a speaker card. Persons wishing to speak must acknowledge on the speaker card that they have read these requirements. Persons will be called upon to speak usually in the order speaker cards were received. However, in cases of large numbers of persons wishing to speak, cards may be drawn randomly, at the discretion of the committee coordinator. If persons who have signed up to speak do not have an opportunity to do so because time runs out, they may provide written comments on the card provided. In addition, any person may provide written comments without signing up to speak.”

Where to Sit: The SHAC board members sit at the tables and there is typically a separate seating section for guests.

Here’s a photo of the basic seating layout at SHAC meetings. It’s a very casual, welcoming environment. Photo credit: AISD SHAC Facebook Page

The Meeting:   Here’s a sample agenda to give you an idea of the flow of the meetings and topics discussed.  The public comment period is at the the beginning of the meeting and is limited so definitely bring hand outs in case due to time constraints, you only have the opportunity to provide written comments.

Do I HAVE to DO Anything?!  As a SHAC meeting guest, you are under no obligation to speak at any time – You can truly just act as a “fly on the wall” while taking in the information discussed.

If you do have something you want to say, but are hesitant to speak in front of the group, you can submit a written statement on one of the comment cards which are located on the table as you enter the room.

Since these written comments are kept with the records of the meeting, (and the “anti” groups are definitely submitting their comments,) even if I don’t have a specific, urgent topic, I encourage you to submit a general statement of support, such as:

My name is _________ and I am one of the 1,500+ members of The Informed Parents of Austin. I would like to thank the SHAC board for continuing to support programs that encourage equality and inclusiveness for LGBTQ+ students and families. I also support your efforts to include age appropriate sex education in the AISD curriculum.  I, and the Informed Parents of Austin, are here to support you in any way to ensure these programs are made available to all students in AISD.

Note:  The SHAC board is there to attend to a wide variety of subjects pertaining to the health of our students and AISD staff, from Physical Education programs and Lunch Menus to staff insurance plans and school nurse coverage.  During any given meeting, there is very little chance that any LGBTQ+ or sex ed topics will be raised, and even if they are, as observing guests we are not allowed to comment on them during the discussion when guests are each allowed two minutes to give a brief statement.  We are there to get information, be a counter-presence to the anti-groups and let the SHAC board know that we support their inclusion initiatives.

There are typically several anti-group representatives present at these meetings. I have learned to follow the HRC’s recommendation to not engage with people who are fighting against our goals, but to support the decision makers who support equality for LGBTQ+ students and families.

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Please note that the building no longer has the “Southfield” signage on it.
The parking lot turn off can be easy to miss but once you arrive there is tons of parking and someone will be at the building entrance to direct you to the meeting room.