It's been a busy couple of days for me, but fighting intolerance is a never ending job.
Saturday night I ended up protesting an HRCoid at the Out and About dinner. Today I spent most the afternoon and evening speaking in front of the Jefferson County School Board to urge that they move forward with a employment policy addition that adds sexual orientation AND gender identity.
I arrived at the Van Hoose Education Center in fly girl fashion diva mode, just in time for the committee hearing that was being held on the issue. Hey, these meetings are televised on local cable TV, so a sistah has to look good.
I did get to speak for a few moments in front of that three person committee, but they voted 2-1 to recommend to the full board that they proceed with adding sexual orientation only.
So the day's not getting off to a great start. I was even more upset when I went to use the facilites and discovered that I left my makeup bag on the bathroom sink at home.
However, I had to shake it off because the board meeting was starting at 7 PM and I was scheduled to speak along with 8 other people on the pro side. We didn't know how many peeps on the anti side would show up and really weren't too concerned about it. We had a multi ethnic and varied group ready to be drum majors for justice.
Our group included two teachers, JCPS parents and students and other progressive Louisville peeps. One of those teachers was an award winning private school transgender one who was fired 24 hours after a Catholic school principal made the local news. The principal was arrested for allegedly soliciting in drag on 18th Street, a known transgender hooker area in Da Ville. The transgender teacher didn't even work at the crossdressing principal's school, but was fired anyway.
We eventually had a total of 30 people show up while the anti side could muster only six. The most delicious part was because the JCPS board was doing recognitions, the entire left side of the meeting room was taken up with the kids, their proud parents, and administrators and teachers there for another part of the meeting agenda. We'd already grabbed the front three rows on the right hand side of the meeting room, so the anti side had to sit behind us.
The CON side consisted of three speakers and about six people total holding their 'no special rights' signs. Two of them were the usual suspects involved with the local Forces of Intolerance.
After two hours they finally got to the part of the meeting in which citizens can address the board on various issues. The order of speakers basically goes in terms of the order in which you called the JCPS secretary to sign up.
The ground rules are you have three minutes to speak. You get a 30 second warning bell, and then a double bell to signal that your time is up.
After I spoke, I ironically had the infamous Dr. Frank Simon called to speak behind me. He's the legendary Klansman (oops, allergist) who's allergic to GLBT people and progressive issues. He's the head of KY Right To Life and a constant nattering nabob of negativity in Da Ville anytime progressive policies are being proposed. He crawled from under his rock to go on a three minute 'GLBT people cause AIDS, typhoid and other diseases' rant before he left the podium.
The second anti speaker was a elderly white grandfather from the South end Okolona neighborhood. He spouted the standard rhetoric about the 'Homosexual Agenda' and not wanting his granddaughter being taught 'how to be a lesbian' by public school teachers.
The third anti speaker was a Black representative of Rev. Jerry Stephenson, our resident Black GLBT hater. I ripped Jerry's behind in a November 2004 TransGriot newspaper column about his comments during the marriage amendment battle in which he stated that GLBT peeps din't have anything to do with the African-American civil rights movement and he was tired of 'our movement being hijacked'.
The sycophant apologized for Jerry not being there and whined about my Forces of Intolerance barb. When he passed me when he was done speaking I said to him, "If the white sheet fits, wear it my brother."
Their negative rhetoric was countered by us kicking knowledge, quoting stats, and telling heartfelt stories before the meeting adjourned for the evening.
My prayer is that we not only changed some hearts and minds tonight, but won a few votes in the process.
Oh by the way, here are my remarks to the board. Enjoy.
Dr. Berman, Chairman Hardesty, distinguished school board members and fellow citizens.
I'm Monica Roberts, a resident of District 2 and the child of a retired Houston Independent School District teacher. I left my hometown and I'm now a six year resident of Louisville.
I am a transgender person and concerned citizen who is here tonight to give a voice and put a face on the people that are being left behind by the proposal to only cover sexual orientation in JCPS employment policy and not gender identity as well.
By proposing to move forward to cover sexual orientation only, you are saying to me and other transpersons in Jefferson County that we are not valued, we are not worth protecting from discrimination, and our desires to help contribute our talents to help build our society aren't wanted.
If the LA Unified School District, the second largest district in the United States can not only cover gender identity but come up with comprehensive policies on this issue, what's holding JCPS back?
The Fairness laws have the language, the law has been around since 1999, it's been tested in the conservative 6th District US courts, so I fail to understand why we simply can't use this language to cover everyone?
This is being pushed as an 'incremental rights' approach, but as I and other transpeople know all too well, incremental rights passed for one group leads to EXPONENTIAL increases in bigotry and discrimination directed at the non-covered people by the Forces of Intolerance.
This is our state, our country, our city, our county and our school district as well. Educating the next generation of leaders is a major priority that we can all agree on. We need to have the flexibility to attract the best and brightest people to work for and remain employed by JCPS.
The best and brightest also includes transgender people as well. I humbly ask as a citizen that JCPS include gender identity as well in the proposed employment policy addition.