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District 51 School Board President under fire for social media post on transgender children

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A transgender flag(Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office / CC BY 2.0)
Published: May. 13, 2022 at 9:13 AM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - District 51 School Board President Andrea Haitz is under considerable public pressure after posting a meme about transgender children to her private Facebook account late last week. After the meme was circulated on social media for several days, Haitz made a post about the meme on her public Facebook page where she stated that she believes teachers discussing gender identity with young children is inappropriate. Within days, Haitz’s comment section quickly ballooned from dozens to hundreds of comments. Some commenters argued that her position as a school board member changed the context, with many concerned for the safety of their children. Other commenters supported her decision, doubling down on their support of her as board president.

In defense of her position, Haitz said, “The meme in question uses humor to make the point that teachers should not be discussing sex or gender identity issues with very young children. As a parent, I agree that such discussions are inappropriate.”

Haitz stated that she does not believe her position is anti-teacher, transphobic, or homophobic, and stated that she was inspired by the highly controversial ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill in Florida, which has sparked a national conversation about gender and sexual identity.

Commenters invited Haitz to meet and discuss the situation with parents of transgender children who attend D51, but she has not yet responded. Haitz also claims to have received threatening text messages, but did not provide evidence when asked.

Taylor Corpier, a transgender man and resident of Grand Junction, believes that Haitz’s message was hateful and transphobic. “You can’t say what’s transphobic or not because you aren’t trans. You don’t know the level of hate that spreads. You have absolutely no idea,” Corpier said. Corpier is a local sex education teacher, and refutes the idea that teachers are approaching young children about gender and sexual identity. “As a sex educator, I only teach to 15-years-old at the youngest. Not any younger. It protects the kids from predators, STIs, and unwanted pregnancies. It’s LGBTQ inclusive because not every kid is straight,” Corpier said.

Haitz also stated, “The meme in question uses humor to make the point that teachers should not be discussing sex or gender identity issues with very young children. As a parent, I agree that such discussions are inappropriate.”

Dr. Jennifer Hancock, an English professor at Colorado Mesa University, disagreed. She believes that humor does not excuse bigotry, stating, “Jokes hinge, rhetorically, on the shared understanding of something. Long plane trips are really awful. Cats can be jerks. Father in laws are protective. Comedians rely on shared assumptions to generate humor. And usually only the people who hold those assumptions to be true find them funny.”

When asked about her stance on transgender children in D51, Haitz said, “I believe all children, including transgender children, should have equal education opportunities in our school district. The District has a legal and moral obligation to assure that no child suffers discrimination, harassment or bullying on account of transgender status, gender identity or gender expression, and I am sensitive to the unique issues and problems a transgender child may face at school and beyond.”

She also stated that the meme does not reflect any decisions or matter currently pending before the D51 School Board.

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