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ACTION ALERT: The Anti-Gay Regnerus Study, And The American Sociological Association

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ACTION ALERT — FURTHER DOWN IN THIS STORY!

YOU WILL BE INSTRUCTED ON HOW TO E-MAIL AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL SOCIETY PRESIDENT —

DR. ERIC OLIN WRIGHT

A study allegedly — but not actually — on gay parents’ child outcomes — with funding linked to NOM, the National Organization For Marriage, of at least $785,000 — was carried out by the University of Texas at Austin’s Mark Regnerus.

The study falsely alleges that there is a correlation between gay parents and bad child outcomes.

In an especially dirty trick with NOM’s fingerprints all over it, the study falsely alleges a correlation between lesbian mothers, and children suffering sexual victimization at shockingly high rates. NOM is notorious for conflating homosexuals with pedophiles, a known falsehood.

NOM is linked to the Witherspoon Foundation through, among others; 1) NOM head Robert George, a Witherspoon senior fellow; and 2) Witherspoon president Luis Tellez, a NOM board member.

Both Witherspoon and NOM have been using the invalid Regnerus study as a weapon against gay human beings, both in politics and the courts.

Mark Regnerus is a member of the American Sociological Association (ASA), which has not yet taken any actions against him, despite his manifest multiple violations of the ASA’s Code of Ethics.

The ASA need make no ethics determinations about Regnerus, in order to file appropriate, science-based amicus briefs in response to the Regnerus “study” having been used as an anti-gay weapon in multiple venues.

Notably in the Golinski-DOMA case, now headed for the Supreme Court, the gay-bashing enemy has relied on the invalid Regnerus ‘study’ in its filings, yet the ASA is sitting on folded hands, as though the Regnerus study were a good faith scientific effort rather than commissioned anti-gay hate speech.

The Regnerus study makes an invalid comparison between its test group and its control group. For this reason alone, the study is invalid.

Regnerus cherry-picked a control group of young adult children of continuously married heterosexual couples, and compared them in his study analysis and conclusions to young adult children from a hodgepodge of domestic situations, principally divorced opposite sex couples, whom Regnerus improperly labeled as “lesbian mothers” and/or “gay fathers.”

If you have not been following this story, and need further analysis of what makes the Regnerus study invalid, go here. Understand, additionally, that this reporter interviewed sociologists from top universities including Harvard, Yale and Princeton. I asked “Are there any well-regarded sociological studies that use a test-group, control-group comparison equally inappropriate as that seen in the Regnerus study?” All of the experts I interviewed told me that a study with such a test-group, control-group comparison would not be considered valid, still less well-regarded.

Over 200 Ph.D.s and M.D.s sent a letter to the journal that published Regnerus — Social Science Research — complaining of the study’s lack of intellectual integrity and of the suspicious circumstances under which it was published. Their letter included this: “there are substantial concerns about the merits of this paper, and these concerns should have been identified through a thorough and rigorous peer review process.”

It now has been documented that there was no thorough and rigorous peer review process prior to publication of the Regnerus study.

Social Science Research‘s own published Peer Review Policy says that submissions will be given to peer reviewers with expertise in the topic of the submission, and that when authors submit papers about esoteric topics — such as gay parenting — they can expect to wait “substantially” more than the usual 2 to 3 months for the SSR editor just to locate topic-expert peer reviewers.

By contrast, the Regnerus study was submitted on February 1, 2012 and accepted just 5 1/2 weeks later on March 12; no topic experts had been used in the peer review, and some of the peer reviewers had conflicts of interest, including that some were paid consultants on the Regnerus study. Others have longstanding professional and personal associations with Regnerus. The “audit” of the publication process was not undertaken by an independent outside investigator. Rather, SSR editor-in-chief James Wright had SSR editorial board member Darren Sherkat conduct an “audit” — which found ethically compromised,  peer review failure, yet held Wright accountable for exactly nothing. Even though Wright did not seek and then use topic expert peer reviewers, Sherkat says that in Wright’s shoes, he may well have made all the same decisions.

Whatever else may be said about Wright and Sherkat, the proper action now is for the Regnerus study to be retracted from publication. Corrupt peer review is no peer review at all, and certainly not anything that can be called scientifically and ethically appropriate peer review. If the Regnerus study is to be re-published later, it must first be put through ethical and appropriate professional peer review. You may sign a petition demanding for the Regnerus study to be retracted, here.

THE FURTHER ACTION ALERT IS BELOW!

Ethics complaints have been presented to the American Sociological Association against Regnerus, Wright, Sherkat and Paul Amato, who as a paid study consultant dubiously but very enthusiastically endorsed Regnerus’s inappropriate and inadequate study design, in a commentary published alongside the Regnerus study.

NOM leaders rely on Amato’s questionable stamp-of-approval when they use the Regnerus study as a weapon against gays.

Though the ASA’s Dr. Sally Hillsman reports that the ethics complaints are in process, she will not provide even an estimated timetable for the processing of the complaints.

Meanwhile, the American Sociological Association need not reach any ethical judgments concerning Regnerus, before filing science based briefs rebutting the fraudulent claims made about, and/or in the Regnerus study, where the Regnerus study is being used as a defamatory weapon against gay people in the courts.

Eric Olin Wright is current president of the American Sociological Association.

Approached this summer about producing American Sociological Association amicus briefs in the Regnerus matter, Wright first said words to the effect that he could not be bothered.

Pressured, he said that if section heads under him in the ASA were to express some interest in producing ASA Regnerus-related briefs, perhaps he could begin to think about organizing for the production of such briefs. Since that time, there is no direct evidence that the American Sociological Association has lifted a finger to counter the scientific illegitimacy of its member Mark Regnerus’s NOM-linked funded “study” on “gay parenting.”

THIS IS A CALL TO ACTION

Wright must now be pressured, promptly to produce appropriate American Sociological Association amicus briefs where Regnerus has been used in the courts as a defamatory weapon against gay people, including in the Golinski case, and in Jackson v. Hawaii.

Wright’s e-mail address is wright@ssc.wisc.edu

Below is a suggested message to him. If you compose your own message, please consider making it firm, direct and businesslike.

Before proceeding to the sample message to Wright, though, you should be aware that along with the American Medical Association,  a total of eight professional associations filed a Golinski amicus brief, detailing how a previous Golinski case brief from the American College of Pediatricians — a far right religious splinter group — had misrepresented what the Regnerus study says, and then going beyond that, to analyze the Regnerus study as invalid. The AMA brief says:

“The Regnerus study placed participants (individuals between the age of 18 and 39) into one of eight categories, six of which were defined by the family structure in which they grew up — e.g., married biological parents, divorced parent, divorced but remarried parent, etc. There was no category for “same-sex couple.” Instead, the final two categories included all participants, regardless of family structure, who believed that at some time between birth and their 18th birthday their mother or their father “ever ha[d] a romantic relationship with someone of the same sex.” Hence the data does not show whether the perceived romantic relationship ever in fact occurred; nor whether the parent self-identified as gay or lesbian; nor whether the same sex relationship was continuous, episodic, or one-time only; nor whether the individual in these categories was actually raised by a homosexual parent (children of gay fathers are often raised by their heterosexual mothers following divorce), much less a parent in a long-term relationship with a same-sex partner. Indeed, most of the participants in these groups spent very little, if any, time being raised by a “same-sex couple.” Hence the Regnerus study sheds no light on the parenting of stable, committed same-sex couples.”

While it is admirable that the American Medical Association filed that brief, it is now essential for the American Sociological Association to file amicus briefs.

Regnerus — an ASA member — alleges that his study — (now being very aggressively used as an anti-gay-rights weapon by his NOM-linked funders) — is the best that sociology has to offer and to say about gay parents’ child outcomes.

However, given our knowledge that 1) the Regnerus study was published through corrupt peer review; and that 2) no sociologist without conflicts of interest with Regnerus will vouch for the validity of the Regnerus study’s test-group/control-group comparison; and that 3) Regnerus appears to be in collusion with his funders and with third parties hostile to gay people — in the communication to the public of multiple, documentable untruths about what his study says, in contexts of expression hostile to gay people, and in violation of the American Sociological Association’s Code of Ethics;

There is just no excuse for the American Sociological Association not to treat this situation as a red hot emergency, and to promptly produce appropriate amicus briefs related to the Regnerus study.

Here then, is a suggested message for you to e-mail to ASA President Erik Olin Wright: (wright@ssc.wisc.edu)

You can copy the message right from this post, and then paste it into an e-mail to Dr. Wright.

Be certain to get as many of your friends as possible to e-mail Wright also.

Dear American Sociological Association President Wright:

With this message, I am requesting that you immediately mobilize the American Sociological Association to produce appropriate amicus briefs to counter the falsehoods and anti-gay defamation promulgated in a study by ASA member Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas at Austin.

As you know, distortions of scientific records all too often have been used as social and political weapons against minorities.

Regnerus produced a profoundly dubious study, that is allegedly, but not actually on gay parents’ child outcomes. Regnerus’s work, published June 10, 2012 in the Elsevier journal Social Science Research, is titled How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study.

I believe that you are already acquainted with the widely-disseminated, strictly science-based analyses of Regnerus’s study. I understand that top sociologists without conflicts of interest with Regnerus are in agreement that the inappropriate comparison Regnerus makes between his test-group and his control-group renders his study invalid. To express my concerns in the form of a Socratic question, can you — as President of the American Sociological Association — name ten well-regarded sociological studies whose test-group/control-group comparisons are equal in their inappropriateness to that seen in the Regnerus study?

Regnerus very strongly appears to be in collusion with his study’s funders and with third parties to demonize gay people both with his study, and with gross misrepresentations of what his study says.

For example, Regnerus contacted Robert Oscar Lopez after seeing Lopez’s anti-gay-rights comments in support of the Regnerus study online.

Regnerus then engaged in correspondence with Lopez. Shortly thereafter, Regnerus’s National Organization for Marriage-linked funders at The Witherspoon Institute published an essay by Lopez. Lopez grossly misrepresents what the Regnerus study says, even as he mentions within his essay that Regnerus contacted him first to engage in correspondence about the study and “LGBT issues.” Immediately after The Witherspoon Institute published Lopez’s essay, the essay was cross-posted to the NOM blog, and to The National Review website by NOM official Maggie Gallagher.

In that, Regnerus appears to be in violation of the American Sociological Association’s Code of Ethics.

Though Regnerus contacted Lopez first, conducted correspondence about his study with him, and Regnerus’s funders then widely disseminated the Lopez essay — with its multiple gross inaccuracies about the Regnerus study — Regnerus has done nothing whatsoever to correct the gross inaccuracies about his study being publicized by his study’s funders.

Here is what the ASA’s Code of Ethics, Section 10, on Public Communications says in its preamble:

“Sociologists adhere to the highest professional standards in public communications about their professional services, credentials and expertise, work products, or publications, whether these communications are from themselves or from others.

I want to share a story with you, Dr. Wright, about victims of Regnerus’s “study.”

A family comprised of two lesbian mothers and their three adopted children live in a suburban area. They previously had very friendly relationships with all of their neighbors. Two neighbor families, however, heard on the news that Regnerus had “proven” that children of lesbian mothers suffer dramatically higher rates of sexual victimization. Now, those two family neighbors do not permit their children to play with the lesbian mothers’ kids, nor will they even talk with any member of the family under any circumstances.

Dr. Wright; as president of the American Sociological Association, you have a moral duty immediately to organize the effort to produce appropriate Regnerus-related amicus briefs.

Many advanced thanks for your attention to this matter.

New York City-based novelist and freelance writer Scott Rose’s LGBT-interest by-line has appeared on Advocate.com, PoliticusUSA.com, The New York Blade, Queerty.com, Girlfriends and in numerous additional venues. Among his other interests are the arts, boating and yachting, wine and food, travel, poker and dogs. His “Mr. David Cooper’s Happy Suicide” is about a New York City advertising executive assigned to a condom account.

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Criminal Charges Against Trump Possible as Manhattan DA Presents Grand Jury With Evidence in Hush Money Probe

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Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has empaneled a special grand jury and prosecutors are now presenting evidence against Donald Trump in their revived investigation into hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and one other woman during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Calling it “a dramatic escalation of an inquiry that once appeared to have reached a dead end,” The New York Times reports the Manhattan DA is “laying the groundwork for potential criminal charges against the former president in the coming months,” and says it “a clear signal” that Bragg “is nearing a decision about whether to charge Mr. Trump.”

Among the witnesses testifying is David Pecker, “the former publisher of The National Enquirer, the tabloid that helped broker the deal” with Daniels.

READ MORE: $1 Billion Campaign From Group ‘Linked to Staunchly Conservative Causes’ Will Try to ‘Redeem Jesus’ Brand’ in Super Bowl Ads

Prosecutors have also contacted members of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and have subpoenaed phone records and other documents that could provide evidence.

But The Times notes that a “conviction is not a sure thing, in part because a case could hinge on showing that Mr. Trump and his company falsified records to hide the payout from voters days before the 2016 election, a low-level felony charge that would be based on a largely untested legal theory. The case would also rely on the testimony of Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former fixer who made the payment and who himself pleaded guilty to federal charges related to the hush money in 2018.”

Cohen broke with Trump and in 2016, “made the extraordinary admission in court on Tuesday that Mr. Trump had directed him to arrange payments to two women during the 2016 campaign to keep them from speaking publicly about affairs they said they had with Mr. Trump,” The Times reported in 2018.

The payments were made “for the principal purpose of influencing the election” for president in 2016, Cohen testified.

He was sentenced to 36 months in prison.

“Days before then-President Donald Trump left the White House, federal prosecutors in New York discussed whether to potentially charge Trump with campaign finance crimes once he was out of office,” CNN reported on Friday, citing a new book from CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig.

But they “decided to not seek an indictment of Trump for several reasons, Honig writes, including the political ramifications and the fact that Trump’s other scandals, such as efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and the January 6, 2021, insurrection, ‘made the campaign finance violations seem somehow trivial and outdated by comparison.'”

Award-winning journalist and author Brian Karem tweeted: “As someone who worked extensively with [Michael Cohen] on the book ‘Revenge’ I can say this: Facts show that the MOST dangerous criminal case against Donald Trump could be made by the Manhattan D.A.”

Read The Times’ full report here.

This article has been updated to include Brian Karem’s tweet.

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$1 Billion Campaign From Group ‘Linked to Staunchly Conservative Causes’ Will Try to ‘Redeem Jesus’ Brand’ in Super Bowl Ads

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From electric vehicles to cosmetics, and even the word “mummy,” there is a lot of rebranding going on.

Bowing to anger from right-wingers and conservative commentators, M&M’s decided to rebrand the decades-old multi-colored candies after outrage over its latest addition, purple, and its new “spokescandy,” also named “Purple.”

“Roughly a year ago, Mars Wrigley updated the look of its M&M’s characters, announcing an initiative to make the mascots fit a ‘more dynamic, progressive world.’ As part of these changes, the company introduced new designs of some of M&M’s characters and wrote weirdly elaborate backstories for others. Most notably, the company made the green M&M less ‘sexy’ by shortening her legs and replacing her high-heeled boots with sneakers,” Vox Media’s Polygon reported last week.

Fox News personality Tucker Carlson infamously has waged war on the “woke” spokescandies, declaring at one point, “M&M’s will not be satisfied until every last cartoon character is deeply unappealing and totally androgynous.”

Fast forward to now: Actress and comedian Maya Rudolph is their new spokesperson, although the “spokescandies,” perhaps after some additional rebranding, will be returning in a new ad on Super Bowl Sunday.

Which brings us to the rebranding of another icon: Jesus Christ.

He too will be part of the Super Bowl Sunday ads.

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Over the next three years a $1 billion mostly-dark-money campaign – which reportedly will include funds from billionaire right wing anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ funder David Green, the founder of Hobby Lobby – will promote Jesus in ads, including during the Super Bowl on February 12. Those two Super Bowl ads to “to redeem Jesus’ brand” will cost $20 million, Religion News Service reports.

The campaign to promote Jesus includes $100 million in ads declaring “He Gets Us,” from “the Servant Foundation, an Overland Park, Kansas, nonprofit that does business as The Signatry,” RNS adds.

The “donors backing the campaign have until recently remained anonymous — in early 2022, organizers only told Religion News Service that funding came from ‘like-minded families who desire to see the Jesus of the Bible represented in today’s culture with the same relevance and impact He had 2000 years ago.'”

But the full list of donors remains unknown.

“Jason Vanderground, president of Haven, a branding firm based in Grand Haven, Michigan, that is working on the ‘He Gets Us’ campaign, confirmed that the Greens are one of the major funders, among a variety of donors and families who have gotten behind it.”

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In a Washington Post interview last year, Vanderground “said Christians see their faith as the greatest love story, but those outside the faith see Christians as a hate group.”

But rather than try to convince self-identified followers of Christ to act as Jesus would want, right-wing interests are spending $1 billion to convince others of what Christianity is supposed to be about.

“Our research shows that many people’s only exposure to Jesus is through Christians who reflect him imperfectly, and too often in ways that create a distorted or incomplete picture of his radical compassion and love for others,” Vanderground told The Washington Post. “We believe it’s more important now than ever for the real, authentic Jesus to be represented in the public marketplace as he is in the Bible.”

Some are not impressed, and are more-or-less asking, “What would Jesus do?”

“They are latching on to this touchy-feely, conveniently vague, designer Jesus,” podcaster, author, and secular activist Seth Andrews told RNS. Andrews “poses the question of what Jesus would think of the amount of money spent on the ads. Would he prefer that the money be spent on ministering to people’s physical needs or making the world a better place?”

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“Or would he say, no, go ahead and spend $100 million to tell everybody how great I am?”

On-air, CNN said, “at first blush, it can all read like a stand against radical right-wing politics and related divisiveness,” but adds that “some are calling this a ‘right-wing stunt for politics.'”

“‘He Gets Us’ is funded by anonymous donors acting through a Kansas non-profit linked to staunchly conservative causes,” CNN’s report (video below) notes, saying it “raises alarms for some skeptics.”

Watch CNN’s report below or at this link.

Image: Romolo Tavani/Shutterstock

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Fort Worth ISD Drops Sex Ed Despite $2.6 Million Purchase of Materials in April

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Fort Worth ISD students will not take sex education this school year after the superintendent told parents she is scrapping plans to adopt a controversial curriculum that the district appears to have purchased last year for nearly $2.6 million.

Superintendent Angélica Ramsey made the announcement at the end of her weekly newsletter sent Jan. 27. She told parents the district is restarting its curriculum adoption process. For nearly a year, administrators planned to re-adopt instructional materials from California-based HealthSmart.

In April, the Fort Worth ISD school board approved a nearly $2.6 million purchase of new digital-only instructional materials from HealthSmart. Trustees did not discuss the purchase. The purchase was part of the consent agenda, a list of items considered routine that can be approved in one motion.

District spokesperson Claudia Garibay did not respond to a dozen questions from the Fort Worth Report by publication time.

Angélica Ramsey, the new Fort Worth ISD superintendent, talks to reporters after the school board hired her during a special meeting on Sept. 20, 2022. (Jacob Sanchez | Fort Worth Report)

“There is not an approved, adopted or recommended Human Sexuality Curriculum for the 2022-23 school year. The delay will suspend the instructional delivery of the sexual education unit for the 2022-23 school year,” Ramsey wrote to parents.

Students whose parents opt them into sex education were expected to take the course later in spring semester, according to the district. Consent forms had a due date of Feb. 28.

The School Health Advisory Council — the school board-appointed, 26-member committee reviewing sex education — is expected to examine different options for Fort Worth ISD’s next curriculum, Ramsey said.

Ramsey’s announcement comes after a Jan. 24 school board meeting that saw dozens of residents and parents speak out against the HealthSmart curriculum, which the district has used since 2014. The Report filed an open records request for the proposed curriculum.

Fort Worth ISD bought HealthSmart’s instructional materials for all grade levels. Sex education is included in lessons for middle school and high school, according to HealthSmart.

State law requires school board members to make decisions on sex education curriculum, the Texas Education Agency told the Report.

‘Superintendent inherited a situation’

State Board of Education member Pat Hardy wants to see Fort Worth ISD succeed. However, as she watched the district attempt to adopt HealthSmart, she did not see administrators being transparent nor working with parents enough to make an informed decision, she told the Report.

Pat Hardy is a member of the State Board of Education. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)

Hardy, a Republican who represents west Tarrant County, criticized Fort Worth ISD’s sex education curriculum adoption in a recent opinion article. All Fort Worth ISD needed to do was follow the process outlined in state law, Hardy said.

Hardy blamed Fort Worth ISD’s previous leadership for its sex education issues. Ramsey has been superintendent since late September; she replaced Kent Scribner.

“The superintendent inherited a situation that was going on before she got here,” Hardy said.

Hardy praised Ramsey for telling parents her plans to get Fort Worth ISD’s next sex education curriculum right and to follow state law.

“My hat’s off to her,” Hardy said.

What has happened, so far

New sex education curriculum standards were introduced in 2020. Without state-aligned materials, Fort Worth ISD cannot teach sex education.

What is the process for adopting a sex education curriculum?

Texas law and Fort Worth ISD school board policy detail the process for adopting new instructional materials for sex education. Here’s what the district’s policy, which aligns with state law, says:

The following process shall apply regarding the adoption of curriculum materials for the district’s human sexuality instruction:

  1. The school board shall adopt a resolution convening the district’s school health advisory council to recommend curriculum materials for the instruction.
  2. The advisory council shall hold at least two public meetings on the curriculum materials before adopting recommendations to present to the board.
  3. The advisory council recommendations must comply with the instructional content requirements in law, be suitable for the subject and grade level for which the materials are intended, and be reviewed by academic experts in the subject and grade level for which the materials are intended.
  4. The advisory council shall present its recommendations to the Board at a public meeting.
  5. After the school board ensures the recommendations from the advisory council meet the standards in law, the board shall take action on the recommendations by a record vote at a public meeting.

Texas school districts are not required to teach sex education. Districts that choose to do so are required to have parents opt their students into the course.

The State Board of Education recommended school districts use sex education curriculum for middle school students from publisher Goodheart-Wilcox. However, the state board did not make it mandatory.

In early January, the school board stopped the School Health Advisory Council’s review of sex education curriculum.

At that same meeting, trustees also rescinded a December resolution directing the council to officially convene and hold two public meetings before offering a curriculum recommendation. When trustees OK’d the resolution in December, its agenda item had the wrong title. It was “approve resolution concerning implementation and enforcement of school safety measures.” District officials blamed the mistake on a clerical error.

The School Health Advisory Council worked on recommending HealthSmart to the school board since September. Garibay described that work as “informational,” according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Two public meetings were held Sept. 6 and 7. Agendas for those meetings were not publicly available Jan. 26, and no minutes were posted. On Oct. 12, the School Health Advisory Council voted to recommend the proposed sex education curriculum to the school board, according to minutes of the meeting.

However, school board records show trustees did not consider a resolution convening the School Health Advisory Council to begin the sex education review process. The resolution is the first step toward adopting a new curriculum, according to board policy.

Another meeting was held Nov. 5 when 15 new council members, who were appointed in October, participated for the first time. The council again voted to recommend the curriculum; minutes of the meeting were not available on the district’s site.

No complaints about Fort Worth ISD’s sex education curriculum have been filed with TEA, according to agency officials.

For the past few months, Hardy has heard from her constituents about Fort Worth ISD. Most of the comments, she said, focus on one thing the district should be doing: Be transparent.

“They’re tired of things not coming to the forefront,” Hardy said. “They just want Fort Worth ISD to be honest.”

Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise journalist for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at jacob.sanchez@fortworthreport.org or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

This article first appeared on Fort Worth Report and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

 

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