In mid-May, the school board in Katy, Texas, met to swear in three newly elected trustees.
Before the oath of office, community members had a chance to speak. The trustees heard a familiar voice.
“Hi, board, I promise to make this short and sweet,” Logan McLean said. “You guys remember me.”
This wasn’t McLean’s first time behind the podium, but it was her last as a Katy ISD student.
“I’ve been in Katy ISD since kindergarten, and for 13 years this school district has given me the best opportunities and the best education I could have ever asked for,” she told the trustees.
Over the past couple years, she’s spoken to the board about internet filters that blocked digital resources for LGBTQIA+ youth — which the district subsequently lifted in high schools — and she’s criticized changes in the way the district handles complaints about library books.
In May, she aimed her message at the newly elected trustees. The three new members won with the help of a right-wing PAC called Texans for Educational Freedom, which has reshaped local school boards across Texas.
“I can look past who endorsed who, as long as my freshman friends have enough teachers to teach them and enough bus drivers to drive them,” McLean said. “It doesn’t matter to me how you feel about removing books, as long as students can continue to see themselves represented in them and learn to love to read the same way that I did growing up here. I don’t care who you vote for in elections, as long as students continue to have access to the vital resources, especially those mental health resources like the Trevor Project and my Gay Straight Alliance at my school that helped me get through high school and I’m sure will continue to serve the students of the future.”
She mentioned the “Gay Straight Alliance,” or GSA — that’s a type of student-organized club. In some schools, the club is called Sexuality and Gender Alliance, or SAGA. McLean started a GSA at Katy ISD’s Cinco Ranch High School, and it’s not the only one in the sprawling suburban district.
We spoke with Jarred Burton, Zeo McGehee, and Arson Paz from the SAGA at Tompkins High School, Megan Raz and Basil from the SAGA at Jordan High School, Jasy Turcios at Mayde Creek High School and, of course, Logan McLean.
We wanted to hear from them what it’s like to grow up in Katy, where it can be hard for young people to find community.
“I think Katy is a little more accepting,” Zeo said. “But it’s still Texas, and you’re not gonna see, you know, gatherings of queer people or pride events or anything like that.”
“Like in my neighborhood, especially, it’s a very suburban area,” Megan said. “So it’s not like it’s not the most accepting area. I mean, it’s not awful, but it’s not great either. I do not have a lot of friends who don’t have accepting parents, don’t have accepting households.”
“I had come to realize that I identified as a trans man about two years ago, and at that time, I didn’t see anyone else that was very open about their identity in terms of being transgender at all whatsoever,” Arson said. “And so I decided to make the initiative to put myself out there as a person, in order for people that were younger than me, or my age even, to feel comfortable being themselves.”