On June 3rd I spoke at the KHSD meeting on whether they would continue upholding California state law AB 1266 which was passed in 2013 and requires that a student be permitted to take part in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including sports teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, regardless of the gender listed on the student’s records.
I didn’t even know about the meeting until about 2 hours before when my mom called and asked if I wanted to go with her to speak. She told me that one of the trustees, who is also a local pastor, was trying to get the rest of the board to disregard the law because it rubbed him and his conservative Christian values the wrong way. Even though I absolutely hate public speaking, I agreed to go with her because my younger brother is trans and this vote was something that could potentially negatively affect him and other kids.
After we got off the phone I started looking into this Chad Vegas, AB 1266, and started writing down my findings and sources to make sure my arguments were concise and organized before my mom came to pick me up.
When we got there I started mentally sizing up how many of these people came because their beloved pastor had asked them to, turns out it was a pretty sizable chunk of the crowd.
Nothing too exciting happened while we waited but I did meet a nice reporter and we had an interesting conversation. He said he was also a supporter of the LGBT community and was on our side despite being raised a devout Catholic. One of the things we talked about was how his sister was treated by her so-called friends when she came out as a lesbian and how hurtful it was when they cut her out of their lives just because of her sexuality. Surprisingly we agreed on most things and he also had a lot of thoughts about religion that I wasn’t expecting to hear from a Catholic. Hearing his POV on hypocrisy in the Catholic church, the contradictions in the bible, and indoctrination was definitely a rare treat.
The only other thing worth mentioning, before I move onto the meeting, would be the bible-thumper outside who was going around telling everyone about his church, the word of the lord, and how homosexual behavior was a sin, the usual, but he was also handing out cards and I made sure to grab one so I could check it out later. It’s pictured below and it was just as ridiculous as I had expected it to be and pretty worthless too, because it didn’t even include the name of the church that made them…
So finally, after being in the heat for hours, we get to go inside and wait in what was basically an overflow room. The doors to the meeting were shut because it was full but it was streaming live on YouTube. At the time I had a shitty phone and couldn’t pull it up, so I kind of just hovered around people who were watching and tried to hear what was going on. I couldn’t hear much but I did get to eavesdrop on the snide remarks of the Christians that surrounded me, which quickly got on my nerves. It was pretty clear that more people had come to oppose transgender rights than support them.
Eventually my brother and I got seats, I sat behind my mom, who looked very unhappy, and I remember asking her if she was going to be able to “keep it civil” when it was her turn. Her mood certainly didn’t improve after some guy used his time to spew a two minute prayer for us. It was something along the lines of “god, give us the strength to persevere in these difficult times, strength to keep our schools moral and wholesome and not fall into the clutches of the atheist liberal agenda….”. My reaction was pretty much “are you fucking kidding me right now?” I couldn’t believe they allowed this at a public school board meeting. The Christian crowd loved it though, mass applause.
Another used his time to say that he didn’t live here anymore, but this was apparently so important that he drove in from another town to ask “has there ever been inappropriate contact between a student and teacher?” and after the board answered yes, he was like “I rest my case” and strode off looking very satisfied. While I’m sure he and other Christians were thinking that was very clever, the sane people in the room were trying to figure out what the fuck happened.
Just about every time an ally or trans person spoke they were booed and talked over by rude Christians and there was a lot rude terms being used throughout the meeting, which especially bothered me because we’re talking about children at school who just want to live their lives without being harassed and bullied in the bathroom, or anywhere else, by the children of religious bigots.
By the time it was my turn to speak I had dry mouth and just the slightest tremble because as I stated before, I hate public speaking and I was really angry at this point after having listened to people all night compare children like my brother to rapists and pedophiles, calling them mentally ill/sick, claiming that god doesn’t make mistakes, and list off false stats that conservative Christians made up to scare people.
I started off with something like “I’d like to thank the rational people on the board for doing their job and voting to uphold the law, and I’m extremely disappointed and disgusted by all of the religious fear mongering we’ve heard tonight.” I then reminded everyone that public schools were secular institutions, that their personal religious beliefs had no bearing on what happened in here, and that had nothing to do with what was being discussed, to which someone shouted “it has everything to do with god”. I finished up this part by adding that if they wanted their son/daughters education to be centered around their religious beliefs that private religious schools existed for just that purpose.
With that out of the way took a deep breath and continued, stating “I have some facts I’d like to share, because we haven’t really heard any tonight” and moved onto my notes. I included a quote from the ACLU that says “There is neither evidence that anyone has used the fictional “transgender defense” for illegal conduct nor reports of any increase in public safety incidents in any of the hundreds of jurisdictions that have extended legal protections to transgender people.” I had also included information on a few studies which focused on trans & gender non-conforming individuals, one of which found that 70% of those surveyed had experienced some form of negative reaction while trying to use the restroom, 9% reported being physically assaulted, and 54% experienced negative effects on their health because of the tactics used to avoid using public restrooms throughout the day. I ended by stating that “normal” people posed a significantly greater threat to the transgender population and that every argument they had used was entirely baseless.
When I finished the audience behind me was scoffing and angry, but the look on one guys face really stood out as I walked back to my seat, he looked at me like I had just kicked his dog. I’m not gonna lie, his reaction gave me an odd sense of satisfaction. My mom was called right after me and I can’t quite remember what she said but she was really upset, for good reason, and pointed out how fucked up it was to compare these kids to rapists and to punish them for the possible wrongdoings of others. When she was finished she stormed out and we left.
During all of this I had thought of several other arguments I wanted to go over but when I finally got up there I was so pissed I couldn’t remember half of what I wanted to say and I know there was more information but I just can’t recall now, I should have written this sooner and kept my notes. Originally I had also included how common sexual abuse within religious communities was and wanted to point out that their kids were much more likely to be violated by their pastor at church than by a transgender child in a public bathroom, but I decided to be nice and skipped over that part. I kinda regret it now.
I was going to talk about Chad Vegas more but decided to do a separate, more in depth post about his church, religious beliefs, and missionary. There was also a very long message he posted to Facebook after the meeting that I took screenshots of and I want to write a response to later.