Bullied to Action: Under Pressure From Hate Group, Illinois School District Pulls Trans Protection Ordinance
by Leah Waldron
For four glorious days, trans students attending East Aurora School District were protected against discrimination from other students, free to identify with the pronoun of their choice, and to use the bathroom (or school locker room facility, etc) that corresponded with their self-identified gender. The policy was a landmark effort to help “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.” Well said, especially for a state in the Midwest.
But that was last Monday.
Just four days later, this past Friday, the ordinance was tabled (coincidentally, Friday was Oct. 19, the national anti-bullying day known as “Spirit Day”). The Chicago west suburban school district did not give a reason for pulling the trans protection measure, but stated that it would research state educational guidelines before revisiting the issue. School board member president Annette Johnson said that it was the board’s error for not “address[ing] everyone’s needs.”
This is what Vice President Joe Biden might call..well, you know.
Shortly after the ordinance passed on Monday, East Aurora was flooded with emails and phone calls from concerned people all over the state, a public outcry brought about by the Illinois Family Institute. As the middle word in their name implies (when did the word “family” turn into another word for “anti-gay?”), the IFI does not take kindly to gay and trans people being recognized—let alone protected—by the state’s school system.
The organization’s mission statement (again, ironically) is the “protection of marriage, family, life & liberty in the Land of Lincoln.” Apparently, trans students in East Aurora do not deserve “protecting” or “liberty,” and considering the number of trans teen suicides that occur each year due to bullying and harassment at school, “life.”
Before prompting an entire populace to “just say no” to trans protection, the IFI should consider opening up a newspaper and reading about some of the LGBT bullying tragedies that have occurred in the state’s school system. On the same day that the East Aurora School Board rescinded the trans protection ordinance (this past Friday), an 18-year old senior attending a Chicago high school was robbed, shot and killed in what police are investigating as a hate crime. Terrance “Jawan” Wright was bullied at school for being gay, and had changed schools to avoid more homophobia.
But, hey. I guess in the eyes of the IFI, the Illinois school system is doing just fine with the current climate of homophobia in high school. There’s no need to promote a school environment that “maximiz[es] the student’s social integration and minimiz[es] stigmatization of the student.” I guess protecting trans students is a waste of time—and enough of a reason to sound the warning bells to every homophobe in the state.
Maybe the IFI should take a closer look at the word “bully,” and stand down.
Illinois Family Institute