To understand Katy now, it helps to go back in time.
Kyle Getz attended Cinco Ranch High School in the early 2000s. He was still in the closet.
“I dated girls,” he said. “And I never felt as strongly as I did about like, the way that I felt for the boys in class. So I knew I had this weird thing about me, I knew that I felt it. And I tried really hard to wish it away. I, as I mentioned, like, even though I wasn’t religious, I would still pray, I would pray that I was not gay.”
He doesn’t remember a lot about that time.
“They say that going through any kind of trauma — even if it’s not like a war, something major like that — going through trauma of any kind, you kind of forget things,” he said. “So, I think I’ve forgotten a lot of things.”
He did recall students joking about AIDS and gay people going to hell. He also remembered having no books or other resources that reflected what he was going through.
“Mainly what I had growing up was what TV shows … gay people on the Real World on MTV or in college is when Brokeback Mountain came out. I drove far away to a theater to see that,” he said. “I think TV and movies were the only places that I really learned about gay people. Or the, you know, the one gay student that I just heard about and never actually met.”
That Katy ISD student ended up on the local news in 2002. We reached out but didn’t hear back, so we aren’t naming them in this story.
The theme for the yearbook that year was “firsts.”
“He was the editor of the yearbook, and he wrote an essay about coming out to his mom,” Getz said. “And there were several things in the yearbook that people got angry about — some printing issues that were real — they weren’t making it up. There were some issues with how it looked, and a couple of things with content in there, one of which being his essay about coming out.”
The yearbook was reprinted — without the editor’s essay. Students protested. The Houston Chronicle ran a story headlined “Cinco Ranch High’s Great Yearbook Debate.” The lede: “A 900-word essay dealing with homosexuality has become the core of what some Cinco Ranch students are calling undue censorship.”
That was in 2002. A lot has changed since then. The Supreme Court struck down anti-sodomy laws a year later in a case that came out of Houston. In 2015, the court legalized gay marriage. And just this month, Congress codified that decision by passing The Respect for Marriage Act and the president is expected to sign it into law.
But as those changes have swept the nation, pockets of pushback have expanded — including, this year, in Katy.
Students have had to fight to get access to digital resources for LGBTQIA+ youth with limited success. And at the school board, trustees created new review panels for challenged library books. The school board members voted to give the panels a parent majority, and to exclude any student representation — including 18 year old high schoolers with parental consent.
Most of those challenged books have LGBT+ representation and characters of color.