Latest census data shows increasing diversity in Lewisville, Flower Mound and Highland Village
As the populations of Lewisville, Flower Mound and Highland Village have grown, so has the number of residents who identify as races other than white, according to decennial census data released earlier this fall.
Lewisville was home to 111,822 people in 2020, an increase of more than 17% since 2010, according to the US Census Bureau. However, that number does not include the roughly 16,000 new residents added via the November 15 annexation of Castle Hills, which city officials say brings Lewisville’s population closer to 127,000.
Diversity has been a hallmark of Lewisville for many years, Mayor TJ Gilmore said. But the city’s racial and ethnic mix has intensified as people from all walks of life flock to Lewisville due to its strategic position in the region, he said.
“We had massive population growth,” Gilmore said. “Lewisville is centered in the metroplex; you can get anywhere in less than 40 minutes. [We are] right next to DFW [International] Airport and have lots of different accommodation choices.”
According to the census bureau, cities of 50,000 or more people have grown at a faster rate in the South than in any other region. Since the last census, the population of these cities has increased by about 12%, according to the bureau.
Flower Mound and Highland Village grew by 17% and 6% respectively. White residents still represent the largest racial group in both regions; however, their share of the total population declined between 2010 and 2020, according to census data.
In response to this diversification, the region’s leaders are striving not only to bond with residents of all races, but also to leverage diversity as a tool to advance the region’s economic interests.
Denton County Commissioner Bobbie Mitchell, who is a former mayor of Lewisville where she has lived for 40 years, said the region’s diversity is critical to its success on the national and global stage.
“We all bring different experiences to the table,” she said. “Putting all of these experiences together, we get a great product.”
One of the largest shifts in racial demographics revealed by the census occurred within the Asian community, which increased by approximately 71% in Lewisville, 94% in Flower Mound, and 49% in Highland Village.
Part of that increase is tied to the area’s Chin population, Lewisville City Councilman Bob Troyer said. The Chin people fled religious persecution in the Southeast Asian country of Myanmar and began resettling in the Lewisville area in the late 1980s, he said. About 5,000 Chin residents live in the city, he said.
“[Chin residents] moved here because [Lewisville is] welcoming and also because their family finds they can start a business here,” Troyer said.
In 2011, Lewisville ISD launched an annual Chin Festival. Deputy Superintendent Lori Rapp said the event aims to celebrate Chin culture through traditional song, dance, fashion and cuisine.
“We wanted to give students the opportunity to plan a program and an experience that showcases their culture and keeps them connected to their culture even though they live here in the United States,” she said.
The Chin Festival is an example of the investment LISD has made in its students of all cultures in recent years, Rapp said. The district also offers a strong bilingual curriculum as well as fine arts, vocational, and technical offerings that attract students from a variety of backgrounds.
“We are a very diverse district and we meet the needs of our families and our students in a variety of ways,” Rapp said, noting that 86 languages are spoken in LISD. “One of the ways to do that is to understand that every community is unique and to allow schools to really understand their parents and their communities.”
In 2015, the district formed a diversity council with parents and community members from different cultures who meet with staff several times a year to provide feedback on ways the district can be more inclusive.
“The goal is to keep a conversation going and allow staff to learn more about the school district’s perspectives and experiences,” Rapp said.
Work at the municipal level
Following the death of George Floyd in 2020, former Lewisville Mayor Rudy Durham established the Listen Learn Lead Committee.
The goal was to hear directly from the African American and Black community about ways the city could improve racial equity. The commission made 30 recommendations, many of which have already been addressed, Gilmore said.
The Lewisville Police Department made several changes regarding the use of force as a result of the initiative, Chief Kevin Deaver said.
The department amended its policies to include de-escalation requirements as well as specific language on the use of chokeholds, which are only permitted if the use of deadly force is authorized, Deaver said.
“Everyone has biases,” Deaver said in an email. “We need to make sure that these biases do not lead to police actions based on these biases. … There are dark chapters in policing history, and we need to recognize that and make sure our officers understand how it still affects people today.
A similar initiative launched in August at Flower Mound. The seven-member All Together Flower Mound Commission advises staff on how the city can improve in several areas, including cultural diversity.
“We crave resident engagement,” said JP Walton, the city’s director of strategic services. “If you come to talk about something you want to see, it’s something we can work on and understand.”
Ideas that emerged from the commission’s focus groups included thinking about more diversity on the city’s website, providing welcome packets for tenants, promoting more out-of-town events, using message boards for meetings, and highlighting cultural events and other activities.
Based on focus group feedback, the city is also considering hosting a new Celebrating Cultures festival as well as a Holi festival in March and a Diwali festival in October. Other ideas relate to increasing educational opportunities through the library and expanding National Night Out.
Gilmore said he plans to build on the Listen Learn Lead initiative by creating a Mayor’s Advisory Council that would provide open forums for marginalized and minority groups in Lewisville.
“It’s amazing when you have people sit in a room and have a conversation,” he said. “Suddenly a lot of preconceived assumptions disappear.”
Rapp said LISD has worked in recent years to build relationships with historically black colleges and universities as well as schools with strong bilingual education programs. The aim is to recruit a staff that reflects the diversity of its students.
“Our [human resources] The department is constantly looking for opportunities to recruit…and make those connections with colleges and universities that themselves are preparing graduates with unique teaching backgrounds,” she said.
Mitchell said Denton County has come a long way since she was a young girl growing up in the segregated south.••“There’s always [going to be] racism,” she said. “But if we put our differences aside and realize that we all bleed red blood and all have the same basic needs, we can get along.”