As projected, the East Aurora, Illinois, School Board held an “emergency” meeting Friday night to reconsider the transgender-inclusive policy it had unanimously passed just earlier in the week. After realizing that affirming transgender students’ preferred names and restrooms was not mandated by the state, the Board was eager to cater to negative feedback, led by the hate group the Illinois Family Institute. At the “Spirit Day” meeting, the four Board members in attendance voted unanimously to rescind the policy — less a reconsideration than a foregone conclusion.
Rick Einhorn, a resident of the community, attended the meeting and transcribed the remarks made by Board President Annette Johnson. She tried to explain that the policies simply were not vetted properly, and since it was not policy issued by the Illinois State Board of Education, the Board simply could not stand by it. She apologized at least six times and three times explained that she was “not making excuses.” Still, she had little to say about affirming transgender youth, and her poor understanding of their experiences was made evident when she pointed out that she could relate because she used to be a tomboy:
JOHNSON: This is very tough for me tonight. This is very tough for me tonight. I guess, maybe I was thinking of how it’d affect me personally. I was that tomboy in school and the boys picked on me. That happened. I know how it goes. I really do. I will tell you. I am sorry, from the bottom of my heart that this ever happened. This, again, there is no win in this. You’ve got one side, you’ve got the other side.
Johnson claimed that the Board will reconsider adding transgender inclusion to its anti-bullying and diversity policies, but couldn’t offer an explanation why such protections were not already in place.
Members of the The Civil Rights Agenda, a Chicago-based LGBT advocacy organization, told the board that it had been bullied into rescinding the policy and that by doing so, it was inviting bullying to continue against trans students. Rick Garcia, the group’s policy advisor, said he hopes the school has “a very large legal defense fund” because “the first transgender student who is hurt or harmed in this district will be a millionaire.”