With 147 or the 147 precincts counted, and totals still unofficial, in an April 4 school board election with national implications that was closely watched by the trans community in Illinois and our allies, it looks as though the trans inclusive slate of D211 board members Anna Klimkowicz, Robert LeFevre and board member elect Edward Yung backed by the partnership of local parents and national trans rights group the Trans United Fund have defeated a candidate slate backed by a coalition of anti-trans activists and groups affiliated with the anti-trans SPLC-certified hate group the Alliance Defending Freedom.
In the D211 school board race, incumbent member Klimkowicz topped all candidates by garnering 9,951 votes to easily retain her seat. incumbent member LeFevre got 8,706 to retain his and member elect Yung got 8,144 votes to capture the last available seat and return to the D211 board compared to the ADF affiliated ‘Parents For Privacy‘ hate slate of Katherine Jee Young David with 7,917 votes, Ralph Bonatz with 7,318 and Jean Forrest with 7,225 votes.
“I think that what it says is the community thinks we’re doing a good job,” Klimkowicz said.
The voters have spoken, and it’s a resounding defeat for anti-trans bigotry in D211.
The Alliance Defending Freedom sought to insert themselves in this local school board race in Palatine, IL in order to flip control of the largest school district in the state and undo the DOE/DOJ agreement reached in a discrimination case with a local trans student.
The national Washington DC based trans rights group Trans United Fund jumped into this race two weeks ago at the behest of parents concerned about the ADF affiliated opposition slate.
The Alliance Defending Freedom had been targeting D211 for months with a lawsuit designed to strip the trans protections from the district and overturn the settlement.
“A mom from Palatine, IL called us up to advise me that a slate of school board members was running (the Parents For Privacy slate) to take out school board members who had supported inclusive schools and with the goal of rolling back protections for trans youth,” said Chicago based TUF national board member LaSaia Wade.
“The anti-trans candidates recruited to flip control of the school board were supported by a network of anti-LGBT activists and groups ranging from Illinois state senator Tom Morrison to ADF ally Vicki Wilson to the Illinois state chapter of Focus on the Family. I raised the issues with the board, and they enthusiastically endorsed the idea of going all in to support these D211 moms and kids fighting back against an array of anti-trans oppressors,” said Wade.
Trans United Fund, sensing the national political implications and symbolic importance of this race to the trans rights cause, did more than just send a stand with them in solidarity message to the concerned parents and kids of D211. They launched the first trans led political independent expenditure in the history of the modern trans rights movement on behalf of those parents and kids.
In less than two weeks, despite the financial and organizational head start the anti- trans forces had, Trans United Fund helped the pro-trans slate parents, kids and allies raise funds and quickly assemble a strong political program that included phone banking, mail, digital and volunteer canvassing to get their ultimately successfully messaging out to the D211 voters.
As the Trans United Fund board foresaw, this is a major political win, one with soon to be determined political implications that will be felt across the country. One of the moms, sharing how inspired she was by the experience wrote about how it felt to have Trans United Fund have her and her child’s back
“…words cannot express how grateful I am that you have taken your time your time and resources to help us fight back against a group of people who have sought to demean and discourage my daughter for being who she is throughout her high school years. Unfortunately, because of their tactics, I have seen my strong-willed, smart and beautiful daughter’s self-confidence shatter. It has been an exhausting battle and at times we often felt alone and that the majority of people were, in fact, on the side of the hate group. However, as more and more people step up and speak out, we realize we were wrong. Through your courageous efforts, you have brought hope not just to my daughter, but to trans kids throughout D211 and the world. You have told them that they are accepted, that they are cherished and that they have amazing talents to contribute to our society. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.” a local mom in Palatine, IL.
“We have been so inspired by the more than 30 moms and young people who have been at the core of the campaign to fight back against hate and fear in their school district,” said Hayden Mora, co-chair of Trans United Fund. “I’m proud that Trans United Fund was able to make a decisive difference but I’m even prouder of the incredible coalition of allies we were able to build. “Tonight’s victory is the result of the incredible leadership of moms and youth in D211, the amazing allyship of Brian Johnson and the Equality IL team, the savvy and commitment of LaSaia Wade and the Trans Liberation Collective and our team at Trans United Fund, ” Mora added..
“Hate groups weren’t just trying to roll back rights in this Chicago suburb, they were trying to build a model that they could export across the country. What they got was a model of what’s possible when trans people, parents, youth and our LGBTQ allies work together. The message to parents and trans people all over the country tonight is one of hope and a story about how we can fight back against hate and fear and win. ”
Yes we can! In Palatine, IL tonight, we sent the message thanks to a committed group of people that we will fight for our kids, the allies who support them and do so successfully.