New Katy ISD trustee under fire over stance against LGBTQ resources

Impassioned students and parents spoke out at Katy ISD’s board of trustees meeting Monday following the swearing-in of new board member Victor Perez.

Perez, who defeated incumbent Duke Keller by about 3,000 votes, ran a campaign largely based on the removal of LGBTQ materials and books he believes promote critical race theory from district libraries and internet servers.

Prior to sitting on the board, Perez referred to websites like The Trevor Project as “child pornography” and certain books written from the perspective of Black or Indigenous people as critical race theory.

The Trevor Project is the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ+ youth. Its site is currently blocked by district servers for containing “human sexuality.”

Earlier in the school year, a speaking engagement from critically acclaimed children’s book author Jerry Craft was postponed and his books were pulled from libraries amid outrage from a small group of Katy ISD parents. Craft’s award-winning graphic novels largely focus on the culture and experiences of modern day African-American preteens.

Five speakers railed against Perez and his proposed policies at the meeting, with one supporter speaking in his favor. Perez did not respond to numerous requests for comment.

Kathy Carpenter, a staunch advocate for Perez, called his inauguration “a glorious day” and requested the other six board members join Perez’s efforts to remove LGBTQ materials from schools.

“My words are for the rest of you,” Carpenter said, addressing the remaining members of the board. “The gay agenda continues to attack you and the parents… therefore I encourage the straight community to reach out to me and we will fix this problem.”

Katy ISD senior Cameran Samuels has spoken at numerous board meetings advocating for the reinstatement of blocked LGBTQ websites. In reference to Perez’s comments on her at prior board meetings, Samuels said, “During recent months, you heard certain people at this lecture call us pedophiles and child predators for being queer.”

Samuels continued, “A newly elected trustee has called for the removal of LGBTQ websites like the Trevor Project — the removal of a suicide prevention lifeline. … I wish I didn’t have to tell you that students have unique needs, and they must be given the support they desperately need and deserve.

Jordan High School junior Allison Franks pleaded with the board to reinstate the banned websites, stating that while they may contain some controversial content, the life of an American teenager is inherently controversial.

“A student’s world is vulgar and mature through the constant outpouring of current events, social media and the general teenage experience,” Franks argued. “This is bound to rightfully be represented in books… I’ve always believed in the importance of being an advocate of students using their voices, and especially on behalf of those who don’t feel like they can.”

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While the board of trustees position is nonpartisan, Perez received endorsements from multiple conservative entities, including the Texas Latino Conservatives, the Conservative Coalition of Harris County and the Texas Alliance for Life PAC. None of the organizations responded to a request for comment.

District parents like Sean Fitzsimmons and Anne Russey denounced Perez’s political alliances, issuing pleas to the board to steer away from political influence.

“The district has become a partisan political actor,” Russey said. “You are sending queer students the message that their existence is unwelcome and that their lives are not valued.”

Addressing Perez directly, Fitzsimmons said, “Not every family is going to look like my family or your family in a lot of ways, be that skin color, be that who’s parenting those children … politics don’t have a place in school boards. “

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