LEANDER, Texas — A controversial policy at a Leander business has some people upset, saying it discriminates against transgender people. But the man who put that policy in place disagrees.
The controversy began on social media Friday night after Davina Coulumbe shared a text conversation between her and Scott Maczuga, the owner of Vortex Sports Academy, on Facebook.
"Tonight, when you wanted to help, there were two reasons why I had to say no," Maczuga said in the text message. "The first is that you have not trained or instructed on our team for years. [...] Second, it could have created a whole new challenge for me on the business front if you would have asked kids to refer to you as a woman."
People shared the post across social media, angering members of the LGBTQ community and their allies.
"People are angry. People are outraged. People are hurt by it," Coulumbe told KVUE. "If people have policies like this, people should know about it. Everybody should know."
Last year, following an issue with three gender-dysphoric students, Maczuga put in place a policy that requires people at Vortex to be referred to by their biological sex, not their gender identity.
"We had to put in a policy that was inclusive for everybody but still made everybody feel comfortable," Maczuga said. "The parents wanted the right to be able to speak to their children about these issues on their own time and in their own way."
After learning that word of his policy spread on social media, Maczuga did not expect what happened next.
"We throughout [Saturday] had hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of one-star reviews, comments on our Facebook page that were vulgar," he said. "There were death threats that we had received."
Following the incident, Maczuga filed a no trespassing order against Coulumbe so that she can never return to his business.
"We never want her here again," he said. "We would never want somebody in our business that tried to harm my family, my business, or anybody else."
Maczuga told KVUE that despite the controversy, he's not backing down. He believes it's the parents' right, not someone else's, to talk to their children about people who are transgender.
"I'm not going to bend to the will of the people. I've got to go with what I feel is best for everybody involved. We're an inclusive school. We're an inclusive organization. But we have to have policies," he said. "As long as they are going to agree to the policy that, while they're in our building or an event, they'll be referred to by their biological pronoun."
"It should be encouraged, not told, 'No, you're not a boy. You're a girl.' And then leave it at that. No, no, no, no, no. You can't do that," she said. "It's happening in your schools. There's transgender children in your schools. There's gender-neutral people in the schools. [...] That's an easier conversation than explaining birds and bees."
A representative from Equality Texas, a nonprofit that fights for the rights of LGBTQ Texans, told KVUE while the policy is "unfortunate," it's not illegal.