Millburn District 24 community members on Monday criticized the school board for what they deemed hateful and anti-trans rhetoric surrounding the availability of menstrual hygiene products inside their school’s boys’ bathrooms.
The Chicago Tribune reports that many Millburn District board members took exception with installing menstrual hygiene product dispensers in the boy’s bathroom during a Jan. 23 meeting.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed House Bill 156 into legislation on Aug. 13, 2021, making menstrual hygiene products available for free in bathrooms from grades 4-12.
Still, the move has been met with pushback, drawing the ire of some community members, who voiced their displeasure to the board during the public comment section of Monday night’s meeting.
“We strongly feel that Millburn schools should make every attempt to follow federal and state law regarding children’s access to facilities and care,” a commenter stated. “Recent conversations that we have seen on YouTube and a recent board meeting have greatly concerned us…with talks of an attempt to restrict all student’s access to school facilities.”
The board was encouraged to resist any feedback that is transphobic and/or reactionary, reminding members that a refusal to follow laws could lead to legal issues for Millburn schools.
“Gender identification is not sexual orientation,” shouted one commentator, referencing TheTrevorProject.com, whose mission is to end suicide amongst young LGBTQ people.
“All menstrual students should have access to hygiene products,” said another.
One woman criticized the board for lack of empathy, adding that their actions “demonstrate little to no regard for students who do not fit squarely within their rigid and ignorant idea of gender norms.”
The board has an obligation to all students, said another commenter: “Put aside basis and leave no child behind.”
An emotional Sophia Runyan, a 2019 Millburn graduate, opted to address the board from a place of compassion. Runyan shared the story of the fatal stabbing of Brianna Ghey, a 16-year-old transgender woman, whose body was found in a park in Warrington, Cheshire, last Saturday.
“You want your students to belong here, you want them to feel safe – trans people are your students,” Runyan said. “Do you want your students to belong or not?”
Many who took the podium during the board meeting suggested that members should reach out to students.
“Your comments do not represent the community. You are creating a divide,” a Millburn grade school teacher said.
But not all participants were critical of the board.
A male parent with a grade schooler in Millburn attended the Jan. 23 meeting and reiterated to the dozens in attendance that the issue is not based on transphobia but rather on the protection of kids.
“If a child is transgender, nobody at the last meeting said there was anything wrong with it,” he said. “No one wants to promote hate to kids who are transgender.”
The male parent’s voice rose as he defended his stance on the issue.
“We feel it is nothing more than sexualizing our kids by forcing tampons to be available in the boy’s bathroom,” he said. “Kids that are 9, 10 years old, they should worry about just being kids and not have to worry about being sexualized.”
The male parent added that access to tampons in the school’s girls, unisex and nurse bathrooms, should suffice.
“There’s no need for tampons to be made available inside the boy’s bathroom,” he said. “Let these kids be kids. Let them go out and play. Let them socialize. We don’t want to be forcing them to worry about issues that they shouldn’t have to be worrying about at this time. …If your child is transgender, that’s perfectly fine. But don’t force it onto my kids.”
According to the Tribune, Kristin Dahert, a transgender woman who watched a video of the Jan., 23 meeting, asked the board to “focus on what you do best, educating the kids.
“Where is all this hate coming from? I just don’t get it,” Dahert said.
Millburn District 24 personnel did not immediately respond back to a WGN News request for comment.
Monday’s meeting can be watched in its entirety by clicking here. The next board meeting is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 27.