I've covered the ongoing drama in suburban East Aurora, IL several times previously: see
We can now bring that drama to a conclusion.
We didn't win.
The East Aurora School Board voted on Monday to dissolve the 22-person committee that was formed in October to advise the district on transgender issues.
To recap a bit: On October 15 the school board passed a policy covering Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students unanimously. Within two days the Illinois Family Institute, which is registered as a religious organization, but is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group, had called for a protest.
Laurie Higgins, IFI, in the call for members to descend upon the school board meetings:
First, does accommodating a mental and moral disorder actually help gender-confused teens or does is just make them subjectively “feel” better?
Second, is it ethical and justifiable to mandate that all school personnel and students pretend that a boy is a girl or vice versa?
On October 19 the school board voted to rescind the policy and create the committee.
We’ll look to establish a community-wide committee who will sit down as a community to look at anti-bullying as a whole. What recommendations come out of that is what we’ll move forward with.
There was a lot of support voiced for the rescinded policy, but the IFI members, who were always identified as "parents" while those in favor of the policy never were, packed the meetings.
Never have I seen so many people gathered in one place so determined to display their own ignorance, bigotry, and mean-spiritedness.
--committee member Joanie Rae Wimmer
The major concern, of course, was bathroom usage…and the fact that "normal" kids would be forced to share facilities with kids who were born with a different set of genitalia. The fact that it was not true carried no weight.
Students shall have access to the restroom that corresponds to their gender-related identity consistently asserted at school. Any student who has a need or desire for increased privacy, regardless of the underlying reason, should be provided access to a single stall restroom, but no student shall be required to use such a restroom.
--the rescinded policy
What's that? Any student can request a single stall restroom? Not only transgender kids?
Are you fucking telling me that these transgender policies expand rights for all people?
Yes…that's exactly what we're saying.
I would say what they were trying to tell us was, you know, a girl going into a boys’ bathroom or a boy going into a girls’ bathroom...the parents didn’t feel that the school could control that.
--school board president Annette Johnson
If the school wouldn't be able to control that if transkids were allowed to use gender-appropriate restrooms, then the school is not able to control that now. So where is the uproar?
There’s an implication that transgender people for some reason are dangerous, and will cause harm to those who aren’t transgender.
--Vera Verbel, local transwoman
When testifying Ms. Verbel identified herself as a Christian and was greeted by a host of boos from the audience.
I said, I can’t believe you would be this way, you would freely accept God’s grace for yourself, but you won’t extend it for me? Shame on you. And that kind of quieted things down a bit.
Johnson and the other board members who favored dissolving the committee say that the district already has anti-bullying and anti-discrimination policies in place and that the state of Illinois added gender identity as a protected class in 2010.
What they should have done is witness the behavior of the crowds (i.e. bullying) and accept it as proof of the need for specific protections for transgender and gender nonconforming children. If the school board can't stand up to the bullies, how do they expect the transkids to survive them?
Johnson acknowledged that she had heard of two transgender students in the district, one in elementary school and one in middle school. She said she believed that the individual schools would support those students' needs.
Whether they’re transgender or not, [students] need to be protected, they need to have safety. They don’t need to be bullied, and I get that.
I don’t think you need to change a whole policy for a school district just for one or two people.
--Pat McManus, senior pastor at Kingdom Impact Center in Aurora and committee member, who favored dissolving the committee
According to the 2011 School Climate Survey, 80% of transgender students feel unsafe at school. According to the study Injustice at Every Turn the suicide rate among transgender people is 26 times the rate for the general population.
We just needed to finally put this to rest and let the staff get back to working on the test scores and things like that.