Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2016-04-27
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


  WINDY CITY TIMES

VIEWPOINTS After East Aurora: The next steps
by Christina Kahrl
2012-12-26

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


Every so often, we're confronted with how badly something can go wrong. Witness what has happened in Aurora, Ill. In October, the East Aurora school board tried to be conscientious in extending the same rights every other student enjoys to trans and gender-nonconforming kids. Three months later, that positive step has been repudiated after the school board surrendered to the pressure exerted by Illinois Family Institute (IFI), an organization the Southern Poverty Law Center appropriately labeled a hate group.

Like any train wreck, it became a spectacle—one that provides encouragement to those who would roll back the rights that we should be able to take for granted. What public meetings were held were vehicles for bigotry the school board lacked the courage to quash. Some trans* activists report being accosted both inside and outside the meetings, and what police protection was provided was apparently more inclined to help pack the room with IFI's supporters than fulfill their duties.

And now, it may seem as if we might have to fight this battle in every school district statewide. If so, the East Aurora school board has set a negative example no one should soon forget: How not to protect the children whose care they're entrusted with, how not to serve taxpayers (instead of risking litigation they'll lose) and how not to formulate policy that simply conforms to state law, especially where public accommodations like restrooms and locker rooms are concerned. The takeaway from East Aurora isn't that one school board is stocked with amoral cowards; it's that local authorities can be cowed by a hate group into violating the law.

That said, this is where activists made their own mistakes. From this point going forward, we need to be ready to talk about and push back on public accommodations. The issue may already be settled law in Illinois, but scaremongering about trans folk using restrooms proved easy for IFI and its ilk. But for all of the concern voiced over trans people as perverts or predators, it is an entirely made-up threat: Since January 1996, when the Illinois Human Rights Act became law, there have been no incidents of trans folk doing any of things they've been accused of, no peeping toms, no stalking—nothing. Not in Illinois and not in the entire country, for that matter. Take it from me: All we trans folk want to do is the same thing everybody else does in the restroom—we all gotta go.

For all of the advances in LGBT rights made in this state in the past 16 years, think of what this precedent means: Equal rights already acknowledged can be traded away by those in local government who lack the courage to protect them. Admittedly, trans folk are the easy target, because ours is the smallest community within the LGBTQ spectrum, but do not think for a minute that it will stop there. Our fight is your fight.

This is why this is one battle that we should not be fighting school district by school district, potentially leaving Illinois with an administrative thicket of compromises on childrens' safety or surrenders to any clique of locals panicked by politicized bigots. We should not submit to the spectacle of another school board haggling with a hate group over how to avoid obeying the law.

Instead, we'll need action from Springfield and from the state board of education, to provide positive guidance to school boards to spare them from getting it wrong. We should settle this now, because we do not want be formulating policy ad hoc, in reaction to the individual circumstances of students already in the school system. As new as this challenge may be for educators and families, we should be acting now to protect the future of the growing number of trans kids coming out earlier with the benefit of the support of their parents.

Some of this is a matter of anticipating the inevitable. Every school district in the state is eventually going to have its first trans student, and—given how kids like to fit in whatever their differences—its first trans student-athlete. As a society, we owe it to every one of them to get it right, now.

From my own experience, I remember when one of my cousins, a middle school teacher, contacted me when she learned she would have her school's first trans student in one of her classes: How should she treat her? My cousin was fortunate—she had a family member who's trans to reach out to. Most teachers don't have that benefit, and won't. How well will they be able to handle treating trans students in their classes if the only guidance they're getting comes from the likes of a school board like East Aurora's?

Christina Kahrl is an out trans woman, a board director of Equality Illinois and a member of Human Rights Advisory Council for Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez. She's also an editor for ESPN.com and a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America.


facebook twitter google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Guest column: Do you know your fair housing rights? 2016-04-27
VIEWS Pope's damaging message to trans teens 2016-04-27
Life: You, Me, and A.D. 2016-04-20
VIEWS How to stamp out transgender 'bathroom panic' 2016-04-20
GUEST VIEW Five reasons for a gay Asian brotherhood 2016-04-13
VIEWS Laughing at the absurdities of Black homophobia 2016-04-13
Open To Thinking: Sheltering the artist at risk 2016-04-06
SENIOR MOMENTS Dignity? Decorum? 2016-04-06
MOMBIAN Gay dad pens funny new memoir on international adoption 2016-04-06
VIEWS A feminist takeover remembered 2016-04-05
GUEST VIEW Why some gays are part of the problem 2016-03-30
VIEWPOINTS: Bathroom blues 2016-03-30
THE AMAZON TRAIL Airing the lesbian laundry 2016-03-29
VIEWS A religious utopia turned nightmare 2016-03-23
Life: Mixed Emotions 2016-03-16
MOMBIAN Two books tell the stories of LGBTQ families 2016-03-16
LETTER: Bring parade out in the open; PRIDEChicago responds 2016-03-16
LETTER: The significance of Chicago's Trump shutdown 2016-03-15
Relationships & Law Today: Culturally sensitive healthcare for the LGBTQ community 2016-03-09
VIEWS: Lesbian mom of color played key part in wave discovery 2016-03-09
Staying in the closet: Five ways it damages mental, physical health 2016-03-08
Open To Thinking: Francis on the borders 2016-03-02
VIEWS Getting to know Bayard Rustin 2016-03-02
SENIOR MOMENTS The great LGBT migration to Palm Springs 2016-03-02
VIEWS The pope and the Catholic Church's homophobia 2016-03-01
Life: Dear young people and adults 2016-02-24
VIEWS The aging homosexual 2016-02-24
VIEWS After Scalia 2016-02-24
LETTERS Muslim, Jewish, Christian LGBTs; Planning Pride 2016-02-24
Beyonce does justice to New Orleans' rich, queer culture 2016-02-23
GUEST COLUMN Budgets Matter 2016-02-17
VIEWS Race matters in budget impasse 2016-02-17
VIEWS Who's to blame for sexually deformed people? 2016-02-17
En la Vida: It feels like a lifetime ago 2016-02-10
The fairy gardener 2016-02-09
LETTER Using the charge of "anti-Semitism" 2016-02-05
The Child Soldier: From the Congo to Chicago 2016-02-03
VIEWS: MARK MY WORDS Insensitive, anti-Semitic protests 2016-02-03
Spitzer's death draws mixed views on his legacy 2016-01-26
En la Vida: It feels like a lifetime ago 2016-01-20
 



Copyright © 2016 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.