Transgender policy sparks recall effort

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Lansing, MI. (WILX) - A group is trying to recall four members of the Williamston school board, because they voted in favor of the district's transgender policy last fall.

News Ten's Marcus Dash talked with the school board's president, and the man behind the recall petition drive, for some insight into their conflicting opinions about what's best for students.

He found out that a little over two months ago the Williamston community school district approved their gender identity policy.

But opposition to the policy is not going away.

Jonathan Brandt submitted a recall petition for the four board members because he says the policy isn't fair to all students.

"They wrote policy that affords customized support for the transgendered, non-conforming, so in doing so they excluded every other kid," said Brandt.

Brandt tells me this recall petition has nothing to do with him being against transgender students.

His issue is with the policy itself.

Williamston's Board of Education President Greg Talberg is one of the board members named in the petition.

He says Brandt's views are conflicting.

"You can say you are not opposed to people who are transgender but if you are opposed to a policy that is designed to protect transgendered people those two don't necessarily align in my thinking," said Talberg.

Talberg says Brandt's claim about the policy excluding other children isn't accurate.

He says all students are offered the same support.

"We are concerned with all students, we want to make sure any student in the Williamston community schools has the support they need academically, socially, and mentally," said Talberg.

For the recall petition to end up on the may ballot Brandt would need 1,145 signatures for each of the four board members by February 2nd.

"There is a lot of people who disagreed with what they did who are not going to be standing out front like some of us. We wanna give them an opportunity to say their piece," said Brandt.

The signature gathering can't start for at least another week and then the board members have ten days to appeal.

Talberg told News 10 he prepares to fight for the community.

"I will do everything we can to fight the recall, I think what we did was right for the kids of Williamston, it's right for our community, I am gonna fight to stay on the board, and follow through," said Talberg.

If the board members choose to appeal the recall it could take up to forty days for a circuit court to rule on the appeal.

Ingham County clerk Barb Byrum says if the petition doesn't get enough signatures by the February 2nd deadline that they'll have to wait until November to try again.

Here is the policy from the school district:
9260 Access to Gender-Segregated Activities and Facilities

Any student who is uncomfortable using a gender-segregated facility, regardless of reason, shall notify WCS staff of his or her discomfort. WCS staff will work with the student to find an alternative that takes into account the privacy rights of all students, staff, and visitors. The Board directs administration to incorporate single-user facilities and measures to ensure greater privacy into new construction or renovation. The Board also directs administration to assess ways to increase privacy for all students in existing facilities. This may include, for example, the addition of a privacy partition or curtain, provision to use a nearby private restroom or office, or a separate changing schedule. WCS will follow all local, state, and federal laws with respect to restrooms, locker rooms, and changing facilities.
This policy applies to the entire school community, including educators, school district staff, students, parents, volunteers, and visitors.
Adopted: November 6, 2017