East Aurora School Board Now Wants to Rescind Transgender Policy

On Monday, the East Aurora Board of Education voted unanimously in favor of a policy that would benefit transgender and gender-nonconforming students:

The East Aurora Board of Education

The new policy specifically states that transgendered and gender nonconforming students have the right use the restroom that corresponds to their gender-related identity that is consistently asserted at school. The student has the right to be addressed by the name they want to be called, too.

“A court-ordered name or gender change is not required, and the student needs not change his or her official records,” the policy states.

“In no case shall a transgender student be required to use a locker room that conflicts with the student’s gender-related identity,” the policy reads.

It sounded like a policy that was a long-time coming and one that would be good for all students (read: not detrimental to cis students in any way).

The Illinois Family Institute — a group that has repeatedly shown its ignorance about and lack of sympathy for LGBT students — was obviously against the move. They think being transgendered or homosexual amounts to some sort of perversion. They wanted their members to inundate the school board with emails criticizing them for adopting the policy.

I, on the other hand, asked readers to send emails thanking the school board for what they did.

Yesterday, I found out that one of the school board members was rethinking his vote. Board member Raymond Hull said in an email: “I do not support the LGBT.” No word yet on why he voted for the policy if that was the case.

Which brings us to today.

Erika Wurst of the Aurora Beacon now says that the whole policy is in jeopardy:

E-mails from outraged residents and organizations across the state began flooding board members’ inboxes, and by Wednesday afternoon, board members announced they would meet at 5:30 p.m. Friday to potentially rescind the policy.

“The board never at any time came up with this (policy) on their own,” School Board President Annette Johnson said Wednesday. Instead, board members simply thought they were keeping up with state code.

“It’s something we (board members) would not have questioned in light of the attorney and the administrators bringing it forward,” Johnson said.

You know, it’s possible that people can sometimes do the right things for the wrong reasons. This is one of those times. But instead of educating themselves on why supporting transgendered students is the right thing to do, they’re caving in to pressure from a right-wing hate group. If they did that, they’d be doing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons.

Wurst also writes that the school board received emails of support though she never directly mentions my name or this website:

Johnson said that she has received e-mails from both supporters and opponents of the policy — but that most originated from outside the district.

On Wednesday, a suburban high school math teacher addressed the approval of the policy on his blog, and called for readers to applaud the board for its decision.

“A district in my area did something really amazing earlier this week,” he wrote. “On Monday, the East Aurora Board of Education voted — unanimously — to make things better for transgender students… This is a wonderful step toward making things better for all students, not just the ones who conform to the gender they were born with.”

Johnson said she was surprised by the positive and negative attention surrounding the board’s decision. “This was just a policy the board felt they needed to keep up-to-date with,” she said.

Keep those emails going. Let the school board know that they already made the right decision and now’s not the time to backtrack.

On Friday, the school board has a choice to make: Do what’s best for the students in the district who tend to be outcasts… or get pushed around by a Christian group that uses faith as a method to bully others who don’t conform to their radical way of thinking.

If the board has a heart, if they care about the students, if they want to be on the right side of this issue, they’ll let their vote stand.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://nwrickert.wordpress.com/ Neil Rickert

    I guess I am not surprised by this change.

    Apparently children don’t matter.  What really matters, is to kowtow to the religious crazies and to their demands of special privilege.

    The board clearly understood what was best for the children, and they showed that in their unanimous first vote.  But now that the metaphorical thumb screws are out, they are reconsidering.

    What a sad reflection on our society.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lindsey.stock.7 Lindsey Stock

    I wish I had enough enough faith in people to believe that they’ll do the right thing, but at this point, I pretty much expect them kiss the Christian right’s ass and hang those students out to dry. Because in this country, it’s been shown time and time again that the opinions of hateful loudmouths are more important than the health, safety, and education of children.

  • Kate

    I tried to email but it bounced back. 

  • Sami Hawkins

    You know what really pisses me off? That the people sending in hate mail over this policy get to lie through their teeth about how they ‘love’ LBGT people.

    They don’t. The only reason to oppose a policy like this is because you hate LBGT people. The only reason to oppose a policy like this is because you want trans* students to be miserable. The only reason to oppose a policy like this is because you think it’s a good thing when they’re driven to suicide.

    I’m sick of pretending otherwise.

    • nakedanthropologist

      Thank you!  This type of crap is why bigots can come out with “but I love lgbt people!  I hate the sin and don’t agree with their lifestyle, but I love them as people”.  I call bullshit, and I’m sick of excusing those people.  Ugh.  I finally had a school board I could applaud, you know?  I thought to myself, “wow, this is amazing – I’m so proud of this right now”.  Sure, Higgins and the IFI were wailing like hateful infants because LGBT students were going to be treated as fellow human beings, but hey – water is wet, right?  That’s par for the course with IFI and other hate groups.  I wish I could say that I hope this turns out for the best – that the board will continue to institute policies that ensure the best for the students.  But, I’m not that optimistic anymore – I hope so, but that hope has been seriously dwindling as of late. 

      • Heicart

        I agree. It’s long overdue in my view for religion to be called out on what it’s really saying and teaching. They have this reputation of love and good, but they’re hateful bigots that do harm under the auspices of this unearned and undeserved reputation of social good.

  • John Las Vegas

    If religion as an entity can use their “faith as a method to bully others”, why are the leaders (priests, bishops, the Pope, ministers, pastors and other clergy) who actually promote and define the tenets of that faith never referred to individually as bullies? Instead, we reserve that label for the children who merely follow what they are taught.  Does anyone else see the duplicity?

    • Dat Guy

       It isn’t religion as an entity but the people who use it for hate mongering who are the bullies here. As for priest, bishops, the Pope, ministers, pastors and other clergy who actually do bully, we call them assholes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    At least she called you suburban instead of urban.

  • Matt Smith

    I’m already late for work, but this is what I dent the disctrict this morning:

    Hi Clayton

    As someone who was raised in Aurora, I can’t tell you how pleased I was
    when I heard the news that East Aurora had unanimously voted in
    guidelines to support its trans students. That the district took that
    step for fairness for all its students was the best news I read on
    Wednesday. But now, to hear that you’ve called a vote to possibly
    rescind the policy leaves me with a heavy heart. The school district
    should be above the fearmongering of the ignorant.

    Even if the vote was called and made by mistake, it was still the right
    thing to do. The school district’s job is to ensure that every student
    gets a fair shot at a decent education. That includes trans students. By
    voting in those guidelines the other day, you took another step toward
    fulfilling that mission, and you showed that you support the minority
    within the minority. The policy hurts no one, and helps those who need
    it. No one who believes there are problems with being trans are forced
    to change their mind; they can still believe that. But they cannot take
    that belief and use it make someone else’s life miserable.

    If you vote to rescind the policy, you will not only take that step
    backward. You will also be saying to your trans students who face
    bullying in the hallways every day “Eh, we don’t care what happens to
    you during the school day. Good luck making it to graduation.” You will
    also show that you don’t have the fortitude to do the right thing, even
    when ignorant come with their mice and keyboards. You will also show the
    raging masses that you’re willing to sacrifice a segment of your
    student population to shut them up.

    I understand that some of the board are feeling squirmy right now. It’s
    tough being the focus of so much bigoted rage, especially if it might
    mean you no longer have your position after the next election. So ask
    yourselves: are you men and women of principle who will stand by your
    vote and students? Or will you let people who want to make other people
    hide who they are make your policies with you as their proxies? If you
    let them pressure you on this policy, what will you give them next time
    to satisfy their rage?

    Do the right thing. Stand by your original vote. Stand up for your students.

    Thank you

  • Banderson61

    We live in Aurora, This is why we have our child in a private
    Christian school.  There is decay all around us; it’s the lack of virtue:
    moral excellence. Neil, It is all about the child, parenting and modeling moral excellence
    is the role of a parent; you are entitled to your lifestyle choices, however in
    the case of this School where they state “” The Public Schools belong to the people”.
    That would be ALL the people, not a select few. Liberal ideology demands; agree with us on
    every level or you’re intolerant. The fact is, the traditional family, yes traditional,
    family and tolerance are the two main factors eroding the values in this
    county. In the end, we can agree to disagree freely. Enjoy your journey BTW, Tami, taking a stand is not HATE, its about values and morals and what the vast majority want. 

    • John Las Vegas

      Truly virtuous people possess the courage to stand up to the tyranny of the majority when we know they are wrong.

      Moral excellence is teaching your children to understand the world and the wonderful diversity of the people who come into their lives, to  fulfill their dreams and grow to be responsible loving and caring adults. Give them a solid education in science and biology. Let them understand the things that are true in the world and firmly embrace them. Let them understand what is no longer true and leave those discredited ideas behind. Teach them never to fear knowledge. 

      Moral decay is caused by ignorance and values are enhanced with knowledge. Here are some facts:LGBT sexual orientations reveal themselves in as many as one out of ten children and any of the children conceived in the heterosexual union between you and your spouse have those same odds.There are vast amounts of scientific and biological evidence to support LGBT identification as a naturally occurring human characteristic and link its initial manifestations in the beginning of fetal development in the mother’s womb.  There is absolutely no evidence to support LGBT orientations are chosen or can be changed. Instead, the evidence shows they are firmly entrenched in the human psyche and pervade the entire existence of the individual to become part of their identity.

      It really is about the child, with statistics showing that LGBT youth are up to six times more likely to attempt suicide than their non-LGBT counterparts, it is also very much about the parents to demonstrate the correct model for moral excellence.  

    • Heicart

      >Neil, It is all about the child, parenting and modeling moral excellence

      Hahaha. Did someone sending their child to a Christian school just presume to know what “moral excellence” even means? Christianity is the very antithesis of decency, let alone morality.

  • Xtravaqanza

    AS BAD AS I WANTED TO ATTEND I COULDN’T … AS A GRADUATE OF EAST AURORA HIGH SCHOOL OF 2008.. I AGREE WITH SOME PEOPLE ABOUT IT BEING ANOTHER ISSUE OF BULLYING, BUT U HAVE TO SEE THE VIEW ON THE TRANSGENDER PEOPLE AND HOW THEY FEEL.. IF THEY FEEL THEY NEED TO USE WHATEVER BATHROOM THEY CHOOSE THAT’S ON THEM.. US AS A COMMUNITY SHOULDN’T WORRY ABOUT SOMEONE GOING TO THE BATHROOM IN THE FIRST PLACE ANYWAYS THEY ARE IN AND OUT OF THE BATHROOM ANYWAYS.. GENDER IDENTITY HAS BEEN A ISSUE FOR ME EVER SINCE I LEFT HIGH SCHOOL, IF THIS WAS GOING ON WHILE I WAS THERE I WOULD HAVE WANTED TO TRANSITION EVEN MORE… TO STAND UP FOR THE LGBT COMMUNITY

  • BrainFromArous

    An advocatus diabolii moment, here.

    If a boy/man wants to be regarded as a girl/woman because that’s how he “feels”, then so  be it. I’ll happily grant him the benefit of the doubt vis-a-vis sincerity and make any reasonable allowances; “reasonable” being the key word here. 

    So is it reasonable that under this policy,  a teenage girl could be undressing at her gym locker or using the shower and find herself next to a 15 year old boy — because the boy in question thinks and speaks of himself as a girl despite being absolutely, anatomically male?
    I can well imagine her parents opposing that for reasons having nothing to do with bashing trans/questioning kids or serving religious dogma so let’s adjourn the knee-jerk, tiresome “privilege” rhetoric for the nonce. 
    Why are there sex-segregated locker rooms in public schools to begin with? Don’t say “to prevent hookups;” that’s absurd. You could hardly find a worse place for amorous consummation than a harshly-lit, smelly, noisy, crowded locker room where adult coaches could walk in at any time.

    What’s the real answer? Privacy and some minimal sense of personal dignity and discretion. Keep in mind we’re talking about legal minors, forced by law to attend schools and, for that matter, participate in athletics. Sex-segregation assures that, at the very least, a high school girl can dress, bathe, etc.  among her own kind without having to put on an involuntary burlesque for male onlookers. Even faculty and coaches entering that space are women.

    It’s not a perfect solution. Gay kids will still get an eyeful and those whose sense of body-shame or modesty or whatever you want to call it makes any public dressing or bathing miserable will still be unhappy among their own sex. 

    Not every issue reduces to Noble Minority Victims vs Evil Majority Oppressors. I understand the emotional and ideological appeal of that perspective but turning into the Incredible Androgynous Hulk when confronted with issues involving sex, gender and self-identity does not enhance rationality any more Biblical literalism does.


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