Lake County Board member condemned over 'deadnaming' transgender candidate
Lake County Board member Terry Wilke resigned Monday from the board's Diversity & Inclusion Committee after being condemned for comments described as offensive to the LGBTQIA+ community he made about a candidate in another political race.
Wilke also serves as Avon Township supervisor and is running for reelection with a slate of candidates.
He was called out by fellow county board Democrats for referring to a transgender township candidate of the opposing party with a name the candidate no longer identifies by and has legally changed.
In a letter to county board Chair Sandy Hart, Wilke said he was resigning "in light of recent events and as an act of contrition." The full board will vote on the resignation April 13.
"I also request that the Diversity & Inclusion Committee sponsor a 'Safe Zone training,' which I am happy to pay for, in the very near future as it is important to me that Lake County remains (a) welcoming and inclusive space for all people, especially the LGBTQ+ community," the letter reads.
"I have a lot to learn about this issue and I want this to be a teachable moment," he concluded.
Without naming Wilke, 10 county board members, including Hart, condemned him in a statement for "deadnaming."
Any transgender candidate is doing the community a "great service" and putting themselves on the public stage "is an expression of leadership and courage that deserves our respect," according to the statement.
"Rhetoric regarding sexual orientation or how a person identifies has no place in a political campaign," the statement reads.
Board member Marah Altenberg of Buffalo Grove signed the statement and issued another one with board member Julie Simpson of Vernon Hills.
The second statement condemns Wilke by name for his "use of intolerant speech" and said he should be removed from the committee.
His actions illustrate the need for additional inclusivity education and training, the statement reads.
"Sexual orientation and gender identity has nothing to do with the capability of any person in their work or the offices they hold," the statement says.
Wilke's Avon Community Engaged slate "apologized profusely" to Kristal Larson and the LGBT community for "deadnaming" a candidate on the opposing slate.
"We respect and acknowledge all voices; tolerance, compassion, empathy, humanity, and especially open-mindedness should lead the way," the statement reads.
Wilke declined further comment Monday evening.