School board elects officers, addresses ongoing criticism of support for transgender students

The Edmonds School District Board of Directors speaks about negative public comments.

The Edmonds School District Board of Directors at its Tuesday, Dec. 13, meeting voted to reelect Nancy Katims as its president, Deborah Kilgore as vice president and Carin Chase as legislative representative.

Per the school district’s policy, the three positions must be voted on each fall. Katims, Kilgore and Chase will continue to serve in these roles until fall of 2023, when new board elections are held.

“I want to thank my board colleagues for their trust in me,” Katims said. “We work really well as a team, and I really appreciate that.”

In other business, the board unanimously approved the revised district policy for architectural and engineering services as well as a policy for purchasing 436 new security cameras through the district’s 2022-23 security upgrades project.

The $1.4 million upgrade will replace a handful of old cameras in the district but will mainly fund new cameras to be installed in addition to the existing ones already in schools.

Additionally, following numerous ongoing public comments during board meetings expressing disapproval of the district’s acceptance of transgender students, Board President Katims and two student representatives spoke out about the matter.

“I think one of the biggest things we forget is that we’re not just demographics; we’re people,” student advisor Peter Garcia said. “Everyone has their own life journeys that they’re going on and it’s so important to respect those journeys because they’re not your journey. They are how these people are going to live their lives and how they’re going to find happiness for themselves.”

Ohanna Jimenez, a trans student advisor, said the constant string of negative comments hurts them and others in the district.

“I’m really disappointed, not with the board, but with some of the people that spoke publicly,” Jimenez said. “I am a student; I am trans. I believe my life should be valued for a life. Not because it’s a transgender life, but because I want to live. So, thank you for speaking out, but it really hurts me. And I know it doesn’t hurt just me. It hurts a lot of people.”

Katims also voiced her disappointment with the numerous negative opinions that continue to be read during each board meeting. Trying to hold back tears, she said she couldn’t understand why people wanted to target the district’s most vulnerable students.

“Public comments made that are against any group of our students hurt my heart,” Katims said. “We hear it meeting after meeting and I don’t understand why you feel it’s necessary … to make damaging comments about a group of our students. In our district, everybody counts; everybody is important. And we as a board have made that clear.”

The Edmonds School Board will be taking the next few weeks off to enjoy the holidays and will resume its bi-weekly meetings on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023.

— By Lauren Reichenbach

  1. Schools are not set up for sexual identification. They are to learn to read, write, technology, machinery, to better train their job qualifications. Sexual ID needs to be worked out with parents. As a payer for these schools I reject the idea that everything has to evolve around sex. I do not promote gender training at a school. If other schools want to be set up for this so be it. Wish them luck. But stop deviating from what should be a schools mail goal.

    1. Please explain what “gender training” is and where you read about it. I do not see that term in the article.

    2. “Schools are … are to learn to read, write, technology, machinery, to better train their job qualifications. ”

      They are also where children begin to learn how to navigate life in a broader community then the family, a place where they start to acquire social skills and imbibe attitudes about their peers. While I agree that the fundamentals are the bases of education at the school level;, it is naïve to think that children are not going to learn about sexuality, tolerance, even gender identity. Better that they be guided, gently perhaps, but guided nonetheless toward scientific, reality-based understanding of how their bodies work, how to deal with society, and the infinite variations of humanity, than be left to fend for themselves, while pretending that reading, writing, and arithmetic are the only things they are learning.

  2. It’s the “guided gently” part that is concerning. How do we know whom the teacher is doing the guiding….what if they guide them gently into suicide…who is liable?? School? Stick to less threatening topics. Let the parents and tax payers decide. Majority.

    1. “Guide them gently into suicide…”?

      There is a lot of research on that, actually. Refusing to support students who are trans leaves them much MORE likely to attempt suicide than their cis-gendered peers. Our schools are the first line to keep our students alive and healthy.

      The only folks doing the threatening are the people targeting our trans kids for being themselves. Leave the kids alone.

  3. I would think our public schools would simply want to be welcoming and nurturing to all students who are obligated to attend thru the 12th. Grade. I seriously doubt any schools or normal school employees ever encourage children to be or not be any sort of “sexual”, whether hetero, trans, bi, homo, or lesbian. There are probably age appropriate type classes like health, or maybe biology or such where things like that might be logically discussed from a scientific viewpoint. Value judgements pro or con would be inappropriate from any teachers, administrators or parents outside the home and certainly not within the public schools. Private schools, maybe a little more leeway allowed; but still not appropriate to denigrate anyone for who they are, or aren’t, or want to be short of criminal activity. Never a great idea to force one’s value system on others, unless demonstrable harm is being done to someone by someone.

    1. Clinton – please don’t use the term “homo”. It has been used for far too long as a rude insult. “LGBT” and its variants are acceptable, as is “homosexual” in a technical discussion. But “homo” in conjunction with “Lesbian” is demeaning, and for me at least, brings back very painful memories of fear and hiding.

      I assume from all your thoughtful postings that that just slipped by, and you weren’t being derogatory.

  4. Nathaniel, sincerest apologies my friend. Nothing derogatory intended in any way toward anyone. Just some ignorant use of the language on my part; but no small thing for sure. Thanks for educating me on this.

    My point is that sexuality of all people and sexual confusion experienced by a few are personal matters. The idea that good teachers and educators in general would ever be in the advocacy business of what is right or wrong on this subject is abhorrent to me. I suspect the incidence of that occuring is as rare as voter fraud in reality.

    1. As before, I knew it was a slip-up. No apology necessary, but gratefully accepted.

      Teachers are there for two reasons, I think. The obvious one is to teach the subject. The other is to equip students to think for themselves by questioning them, pointing out errors, and helping them formulate clearer and more coherent answers – the Socratic method, if you will. Neither of these means telling students WHAT to think.

      Though as a former English teacher, I have grave reservations about teaching them math… 🙂 s/

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