Bowing to Pressure from ‘Bullies,’ E. Aurora School District Rescinds New Trans-Inclusive Policy
A short-lived transgender inclusion policy in the East Aurora School District has been overturned in a special school board meeting after school board members received complaints from anti-LGBT groups.
Key among these groups is the Illinois Family Institute, which has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The group's Director of School Advocacy Laurie Higgins has compared homosexuality to Nazism and has worked for Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, an organization that promotes pernicious homophobic myths.
Among other provisions, the measure would have allowed transgender students to choose which gendered facilities to use, and would have required teachers to call students by the students’ preferred names—without needing a court-ordered name or gender change, which are nearly impossible for minors to get.
Following the passage of the measure, the IFI and other anti-LGBT groups in Illinois stirred up a campaign among parents on their mailing list to overturn what Higgins called a “radical policy on gender confusion.”
Four days later, the policy was canceled in a special meeting.
The school district has issued conflicting reports on the reason for its rescinding of the measure. Board President Annette Johnson told ABC News that the outraged phone calls and e-mails were responsible; officials told the Chicago Tribune that it was a procedural matter.
Like other gender and sexual minorities, transgender and gender-nonconforming students can face severe bullying, which is often compounded by unsympathetic or blatantly discriminatory teachers and administrators. While they may not stop bullying, trans-inclusive policies can allow students to feel more comfortable and, for students who are read as their correct gender, prevent unnecessary “outing” to peers.
School district officials say they will hold another hearing on Nov. 5. For the foreseeable future, the handful of transgender children in East Aurora’s public schools are once again without any protective policy.
“You have been bullied into having this meeting,” Anthony Martinez, executive director of the Civil Rights Agenda, said during the special meeting. “I want you to think about the message you are sending.”
Shay O'Reilly is a reporter with Campus Progress. Follow him on Twitter @shaygabriel.