Evanston District passes pro-transgender policy

The Evanston (IL) Township High School District (District 202) school board voted 6-1 on Monday to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.

The policy, which was introduced last month, was crafted after the Board Policy Committee decided it needed language to better support its gender discrimination policy. ETHS superintendent Eric Witherspoon commended the board for taking “a huge step forward” at Monday’s meeting in front of more than 50 students and parents.

I hope you understand that this board just made history. These are people who have put in place statements and policy about honoring transgender students in a way that no other district that we know of in the state has (done).

--ETHS superintendent Eric Witherspoon

During the meeting, audience members held up homemade posters and typed-up signs urging board members to vote for the policy. A multi-colored sign distributed at the door by a student read “Vote Tonight For Equity.”

Board member Gretchen Livingston, who voted for the policy, said the board had an obligation to “do better” for its students. She said transgender students having to use a separate locker room was a problem that required the board to take another look at its policies and procedures.

The message came through loud and clear. It came directly from our students that the proposed policy was an important one to support.

Simply put, we do not treat our students differently on the basis of characteristics like skin color or disability, nor should we do so on the basis on gender identity.

--Livingston

The other side is that a locker room is not a place for educational opportunities; it’s a place where you have an expectation of privacy.

--Doug Holt, who voted against the policy

Later during the meeting, the board also gained two new members, and another two members saw their terms renewed. The new members — Jude Laude and Patricia Maunsell — replaced Holt and Anne Sills on the board, and joined Livingston and Pat Savage-Williams as the four members elected in the April municipal election.

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