The Northwest suburban school district that made locker room accommodations for a transgender student late last year is offering sensitivity training for parents and community members. District 211’s first gender identity session was Thursday night at Schaumburg High School but some parents weren’t too happy about it.
WBEZ reporter Monica Eng was there. She spoke with local Morning Edition host Lisa Labuz about the event.
This interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness.
LISA LABUZ: This has been a controversial topic in the Northwest suburbs, so I want to get to the community’s reaction, but first, what exactly goes into a gender identity session?
MONICA ENG: How to address transgender youth, how to talk to kids about it, and a lot of statistics around homelessness, depression and suicide.
LL: What was the crowd like?
ME: Overall, about 50 people…in terms of parents attending about 25-30. There were district parents, teachers, student volunteers… And I have to say, a lot of parents have objected to this training. [One parent I spoke to said]:
I think it’s very destructive. I think it sows seeds of confusion where they don’t need to be. I think affirming gender dysphoria assumes that affirmation of this is good when what we’re talking about is people trying to live in contradiction to reality.
ME: That was Teri Paulson and she was with a lot of other parents who shared her views. But there were also parents like Christine Holberg. She brought her daughter who said she was part of the LGBT group at the school, and she thought this was a really wonderful and useful training.
I thought it was fabulous information to hear as a human being. I work in schools and so as an educator it can be helpful and but i think as a human being living in a community so we can be respectful of everybody and help everyone feel safe where they are.
LL: Will there be more sessions?
ME: Yes, at least a few more in the district this month.
Monica Eng is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her @monicaeng.