Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Republican Bully Squad

Jeff Simpson

As a member of the Monona Grove School Board, we are always in the process of updating our Policies and Administrative Rules.  We recently updated Administrative rule 411, Nondiscrimination Guidelines Related to Students Who Are Transgender and Students Nonconforming to Gender Role Stereotypes.

The key part here is this(emphasis mine):

Restroom and Locker Room Accessibility:  In most cases, students shall have access to the restroom or locker room that corresponds to the gender identity that the student consistently asserts at school and in other social environments. The following guidelines related to restroom and changing areas generally assume that the student has a special concern or is in some way uncomfortable with consistently using the facilities that correspond to the biological sex that the student was assigned at birth.

The District highly recommends, but does not require, transgender students and/or their parents/guardians create a “School Plan for Transgender/Gender Nonconforming Students” with a school counselor or other student services staff member, with the support of a school administrator, to address restroom/locker room choices. In any gender-segregated facility, any student who is uncomfortable using a shared facility, regardless of the reason, shall, upon the student’s request, be provided with a safe and non-stigmatizing alternative. This may include, for example, addition of a privacy partition or curtain, provision to use a nearby private restroom or office, or a separate changing schedule. However, requiring a transgender or gender nonconforming student to use a separate, nonintegrated space threatens to publicly identify and marginalize the student as transgender and should not be done unless requested by a student. Under no circumstances may students be required to use sex segregated facilities that are inconsistent with their gender identity. Where available, schools are encouraged to designate facilities designed for use by one person at a time as accessible to all students regardless of gender, and to incorporate such singleuser facilities into new construction or renovation. However, under no circumstances may a student be required to use such facilities because they are transgender or gender nonconforming. If a transgender student makes any request regarding the use of locker rooms or any similar type of changing area, the request shall be assessed on a case-by-case basis with the goals of: (a) facilitating the transgender student’s access to the district’s physical education curriculum and other relevant programs; (b) ensuring adequate student privacy and safety; and (c) minimizing stigmatization of the transgender student. The physical layout of the facility and the degree of undress required when changing for the applicable activity are examples of factors that will be considered in making the arrangements. There is no absolute rule that, in all cases, will require a transgender student to access and use only the locker rooms and other changing areas that correspond to the biological sex that the student was assigned at birth.

This is standard issue rule, with many other districts adopting the same/similar rule.   We adapted thsi rule because it is our responsibility as an elected school board.   We adapted this rule because we care about ALL of our kids and it is the best way to protect our trans-gendered and questioning youths. We adapted it to send a message to our youth that you are safe in our schools.

Unfortunately, we were mistaken.  

We have the ability to protect our children from threats inside the school.  We do not however. have the ability to protect our children from the legislators at the Capitol.

Transgender students would be barred from using school bathrooms or locker rooms assigned to the gender with which they identify, under a bill being proposed by two Republican lawmakers.
Rep. Jesse Kremer, R-Kewaskum, and Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, are proposing to require school boards to designate bathrooms and locker rooms as being for one gender exclusively, and to require the state Department of Justice to defend  school districts in lawsuits alleging the policy is discriminatory.
Less than a week ago, Madison lost one of its bright lights when 16 year old Skyler Marcus Lee, a local transgendered high school student and fierce LGBT activist, lost his battle with depression and took his own life.

Apparently Rep. Kremer and Senator Nass have decided to bully all transgendered children in Wisconsin.   Because no school board worth its salt, would ever pass such a bullying, regressive mean spirited rule, Kremenass knew they had to completely usurp local control (again).  To top it all off, knowing that their bill in mean spirited and discriminative, they also put provisions into the bill that the taxpayers of Wisconsin will cover all of their bill writing incompetence.  

While these are the faces of cowardice and evil:

This is the bright light that was too early extinguished.
Lee Skylar Marcus

The question is will the rest of the state of Wisconsin stand up to cowardly bullies like Kremer and Nass so that the Skylars of the world know that they are supported and loved?  Or do we continue with the Scott Walker signature, of Divide and Conquer politics?

We all have a choice to make....choose well Wisconsin.

Until we do:

If you are a trans or gender-nonconforming person considering suicide, Trans Lifelinecan be reached at 877-565-8860. LGBT youth (ages 24 and younger) can reach theTrevor Project Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 can also be reached 24 hours a day by people of all ages and identities.


  1. Just a small strategic suggestion - don't frame it a "Republican vs Democrat" issue when you have to convince a majority Republican body to reject this idiotic bill. The Republicans aren't going to go away just because some of their number are on the wrong side of this issue, but they can be convinced to side with the public good if you frame your case so that it benefits them to agree with you. History is rife with stories of individual politicians being thwarted by bad press, but political parties invariably dig in their heels when criticized as a whole. And, to be blunt, political parties tend to win when they dig in their heels because convincing the voting public to believe something convenient to their agenda is quite literally their day job.

    "Local control" and "wasting tax dollars" are your best leverage, but you must have a compelling story to go with it from a source that would fear a loss of local control or the implied tax increases tangential to the core issue. Alternatively, "unintended consequences" is a good backup strategy for souring an idea to a Republican majority.

    Hard line political agendas like this are invariably things that the majority of the politician's core demographic simply do not care about because it doesn't affect them. The only ones who really pay attention are the opposing party and the fringe that agrees with the hard line, which is why these off-the-wall bills almost always get introduced on odd numbered years - the core has forgotten by the election cycle, while the fringe has not. Your goal is to convince the politician that this action will hurt their image with their core demographic.

  2. Thanks Jeff for your support and for the work of the MGSD committee that moved this policy forward this past summer. Brian J. with GSAFE

  3. Thanks Jeff for your support and for the work of the MGSD committee that moved this policy forward this past summer. Brian J. with GSAFE