Endorsements: LeFevre, Klimkowicz, Yung for Palatine Township High School District 211 school board
The race for the Palatine Township High School District 211 board in large part will boil down to one simple question: Do you favor inclusion for transgender students when it comes to restrooms and locker rooms or do you feel they should be required to use other facilities in order to go to the bathroom and change for gym class?
To a degree, that's unfortunate, because school board members, especially in Illinois, need to be well prepared to deal with many more issues than restroom use. In that context, experience is a valuable quality, and it is another issue distinguishing the candidates in this race.
As for restrooms, we've stated strongly before that we favor inclusion. We also urge voters to reflect on the value of a candidate's background in dealing with diverse issues in a board setting.
The district's road to forging a restroom policy is a long and bumpy one. The shorthand is this: A few years ago, a student who was born a boy but identifies as a girl sought from the district unfettered access to the girls locker room and was denied, so through the ACLU she sued the district. The Department of Education recommended she be given access, but the school board sought a compromise position -- providing a private area within the girls locker room. The board voted 5-2 to approve its compromise solution and the feds backed off.
We criticized the board at the time for not following the Department of Education's recommendation of greater inclusion.
Board Vice President Robert LeFevre and board member Anna Klimkowicz, who are running for re-election, were two of the members who voted yes on the compromise. They remain comfortable with the decision, as does Ed Yung, a former board member who is running for one of the three open seats.
From the controversy arose a slate of three candidates who say fighting the district's transgender policy is what prompted them initially to seek election. While all three have been studying up on the inner workings of the district, their driving interest is to deny transgender students access to the locker room of the gender to which they identify. We understand this is an important and emotional issue that will drive many voters, but it shouldn't be a litmus test.
There are many other issues that matter to the state's largest high school district, and, ultimately, voters should cast ballots to reaffirm the outstanding academic system that District 211 operates and how well, from all perspectives, the school system is preparing students from all walks of life for adulthood.
LeFevre, Klimkowicz and Yung have earned election by that standard.