PALATINE, IL — Today, Trans United Fund, a national trans-led advocacy group, in partnership with local parents and trans youth in Illinois School District 211, announced a decisive and historic victory against a slate of candidates aligned with the Alliance Defending Freedom ( ADF ), which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated as a hate group. Trans United Fund, working with local parents and youth, won all three of their targeted races, playing a decisive role in reelecting incumbents Anna Klimkowicz and Robert LeFevre and challenger Edward Yung.
"A mom from the district reached out to us for help," said LaSaia Wade, a Chicago-based board member of Trans United Fund. "She shared that local parents and students had been battling a network of national and state hate groups on their own. They were up against a 'hate slate' of candidates intent on taking over their local school board and rolling back protections for trans youth. But we knew that if the opposition won, it would mean more violence and bullying for LGBTQ students and any kid that's different. The timeline was short and our resources were already stretched thin, but we weren't going to let that happen."
Trans United Fund ( TUF ) and a group of local parents, youth, and allies, worked together to launch the first trans-led, trans-focused independent expenditure in history. TUF assembled a powerful team of thoughtful allies to quickly build and execute a research-informed and strategic plan to help the parents and youth get their message out. TUF supported the parents' efforts through digital, mail, phone banking and helping to train volunteers to reach their neighbors at the door.
"We are just a group of parents who love our kids and believe deeply in humanity and equality for all. We are fed up with this small group of vocal, transphobic people guided by a national hate group wreaking havoc in our community and trying to dismantle supportive practices in our schools. Our District 211 community will not tolerate adults bullying kids or intimidating us for one more day. The ADF-inspired slate of candidates ran with the agenda of inserting a hate-based, national agenda into our schools. They didn't care that their policy changes would increase bullying and violence against kids. We needed to stand up and fight to maintain quality education and inclusion in District 211, but we lacked the campaign experience and financial resources of our opposition. So we reached out to Trans United Fund and they helped us to get our message out to our neighbors and community members. When they understood what was happening, voters in our community overwhelmingly rejected politics of fear and hate exactly 3 out of 3 times." said Tracey Salvatore, a local mom from District 211.
While historic in and of itself, TUF's independent expenditure also marked a groundbreaking collaboration groups that often work in silos.
"When we started this campaign, we were facing an opposition with a 10-0 fundraising advantage, a politics of hatred and fear, an affiliation with a hate group and an election just shy of two weeks away. Without the incredible leadership of the parents and young people at the heart of this battle and the unprecedented support of Brian Johnson and the team at Equality IL, none of this would have been possible. Hate groups targeted this election because they wanted a national model, one they could use to bully and intimidate school board members and other elected officials around our country to abandon trans youth. Well, they got a model all right, but one that proves that when parents, trans youth, diverse trans leaders and strong allies join together, love can indeed win. So much of the history of the trans and LGB movement is one of division, but the story of our victory in D211 is about what's possible when people extend faith to one another and work together," said Hayden Mora, Board Co-Chair of Trans United Fund.
Monica Roberts, a board member of Trans United Fund and a longtime trans advocate added, "This was a local school board election with national implications, and congratulations to the D211 parents, kids, and allied organizations who worked hard to ensure that their school board wouldn't be contaminated by anti-trans bigotry."
Daye Pope, Trans United Fund's Organizing Director who helped support the parents and youth on the ground added:
"Trans kids and their families won last night. Everyday people, with clipboards in their hands and walking shoes on their feet, beat back the overreach of groups peddling fear and hatred the good old-fashioned way: by talking to their neighbors. It's been profoundly healing for me as a young trans woman to see the groundswell of love and support for trans youth from these parents, neighbors, teachers, and friends as I've been on the ground helping organize with them. They embody the world that we're building together—a world in which trans people don't just survive, but thrive; aren't just tolerated, but celebrated; and where every trans kid knows they are safe, valued, and loved. I caught a glimpse of that world this week in District 211, and we're going to keep fighting until that's the world we all live in."