The board of Township High School District 113a district composed of Highland Park and Deerfield high schoolson April 12 unanimously voted to add language to school policies clarifying that no student would be denied access to programs, activities or services based on their gender expression.
"This is something that we do not take lightly, and this is something we've worked on for a great deal of time," said President Annette Lidawer at the board's April 12 meeting. "We've received several letters both in support and in opposition to this."
She added that, just that afternoon, she'd received a letter calling her a "marketer of evil," adding that such responses "should remind us as a community why it's important that we have these protections in place."
The revised policies addressed equal educational opportunities as well as rules pertaining to bullying and sexual harassment.
A number of individuals spoke in support of the policies during public comments in the meeting.
Highland Park High School student Andrew Brooks said, "I have many friends who are part of the transgender [and] gender-neutral spectrum, all of whom want to feel they belong and are comfortable in the place they belong most of the time."
Sandra Wichner, a Highland Park High School physical education teacher, said that when she makes accommodations for transgender students, "There's a world of difference. … They are so happy when I treat them just like everybody else and we make sure that they have the same opportunities as everybody else. Yes, we want to make sure that we are providing a learning community free of discrimination, but we want to be a learning community that is also supportive to all the needs of our students."