Palatine-Schaumburg District 211 candidates address transgender students' access
Seventeen months into the public debate over transgender students' access to locker rooms and bathrooms in Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211, the most fundamental question of all was asked of all six candidates for the school board at a forum Thursday.
Can a person ever change his or her gender from what a medical professional recorded it at birth?
First to answer was the united slate of Ralph Bonatz, Katherine Jee Young David and Jean Forrest. Their platform includes the belief that the current school board failed to reflect the community's values by generally permitting students access to the bathrooms of the gender they identify as and allowing one specific transgender student limited access to a girls locker room at Fremd High School in Palatine.
Bonatz and David answered simply no to the question.
Forrest replied that such an opinion is irrelevant to one's service as a school board member.
Incumbents Anna Klimkowicz and Robert LeFevre Jr. as well as former District 211 board member Ed Yung answered yes.
"Obviously, we've seen that happen, so yes," Klimkowicz said.
Yung added that his opinion was informed by the recent Katie Couric documentary "Gender Revolution."
Another audience member at the forum at Conant High School in Hoffman Estates then asked the candidates the follow-up question of whether they considered it the right of someone to use the locker room of the opposite biological sex.
Bonatz, David and Forrest answered no unanimously.
Yung answered yes, while Klimkowicz said such a person would have the right to restricted access.
LeFevre replied that the use of any such facility would be a privilege, as he considered it a privilege to live in the District 211 community.
When the candidates were asked how the school board should respect the rights of LGBT and minority students and prevent bullying, Forrest said the board's role was to look out for all students.
She added that she believed the district already has an anti-bullying policy and, as a parent, she feels passionately that all LGBT and minority students feel respected.
LeFevre also responded that all students should be respected equally.
"I don't think we need to set rules about how human beings should treat human beings," he said.
David said her slate is proposing that the privacy rights of all students be protected by providing special accommodations for those who request them without impinging on the rights of other students.
She added that she considered it a breakdown in the district's communications that she learned from her daughter that transgender students already had the right to use the bathrooms of their choice.
Bonatz also called this an "egregious error of communication," but defended himself and his slate from a question implying they were insensitive about diversity.
He said that growing up and attending school in Chicago had made him "colorblind" to racial distinctions and that he had had two bosses during his life who were homosexual but for whom he had much respect.
"I'm a little offended by the presumption," he told the questioner.
While Bonatz, David and Forrest are campaigning as a slate for the three available seats on the board, Klimkowicz, LeFevre and Yung are all running as individuals.
The election is April 4.