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.


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