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East Aurora School Board Repeals Transgender Protections For Students

By Amy Cavanaugh in News on Oct 21, 2012 6:00PM

Image credit: alamosbasement
Last Monday the East Aurora school board passed a policy that allowed transgender students to be addressed by the name and pronoun that match their gender identity and participate in sports, gym classes, health classes, and use restrooms without harrassment. Then on Friday they met again and took away these rights.

The initial policy was intended to "to ensure the safety, comfort, and healthy development of the transgender or gender nonconforming student while maximizing the student’s social integration and minimizing stigmatization of the student."

That angered the Illinois Family Institute, who asked people to email the school district and complain.

"We have made this such an elastic and expansive definition of bullying as to render it meaningless," Laurie Higgins, a writer for the Illinois Family Institute, told WBEZ.

The board reconvened on Friday at a meeting attended by parents and citizens. The Windy City Times reported that Board President Annette Johnson apologized and said, "I sincerely apologize that we didn't watch closer," she said. "[But] public education has to address everyone's needs." School attorney Bernie Weiler said they reversed the policy to obtain state guidance.

Concerned parent Susana Alfero was among those packing the Student Service Center. Alfero is the mother of 7-year-old, Kayla, who identifies as a transgender youth. Kayla wore a red baseball cap, red sweatshirt and jeans.

"She's perfectly fine with who she is and who she will become," Alfero said during a public comment period. "She's no less of a person because of the way she was born. Tomorrow, when you stop this policy, who's going to protect my child."

The school board will revisit the policy on November 5 during their regular board meeting at McKnight Service Center, 417 Fifth St., Aurora.