TROY — More than 100 community members attended a public meeting Tuesday night in regard to the Troy City Schools’ recent announcement about the district’s decision to offer gender-neutral restroom facilities in the district’s schools.
Melissa Leembrugen facilitated the meeting at Troy’s Koinos Christian Fellowship outlining nine areas of concern for her and others who have since formed a nonprofit group with its own website called “Bathroom Privacy: For the Privacy and Safety of Children.”
The group launched its nonprofit website at www.bathroomprivacy.org in the last few days.
“We are so glad that so many people felt like adding their voice to the public and to the public concern and dialogue and felt that it was important enough to come out and take part in this informational meeting,” she said. “We are here because society changes and that’s okay. That’s part of who we are and we need to have the courage and the diplomatic skills to adjust and respond, but during times of transitions, we must all be willing to engage in civil public dialogue with a listening ear and an attitude of respect.”
The hourlong meeting outlined the nine concerns which Leembrugen said would be presented to the school board and administration. The nine areas include privacy and safety for all students, locker room usage, qualifications and legal description of gender and identity issues in public schools, potential abuse of the policy, gender fluidity of students as well as visitors, age disparity among the entire district and inconsistent prescient setting regarding minor children without parental consent.
Also on the web site is a nine-page letter to all the school board members from the group Alliance Defending Freedom organization. The letter was dated Sept. 1.
Leembrugen also stated that notations and suggestions from the audience to add to the nine areas of concern would be noted and added to the group’s list. School board member Doug Trostle was in attendance, but declined to comment. Doug Tremblay, city council member, was also in attendance, but stated that he attended as a citizen and not a representative of council.
Several community members, parents and activists addressed their concerns in the open forum. Several activists attended the meeting and voiced their concerns. At the end of the meeting, Lachlan Anderson, 39, of Columbus, introduced himself as a former member of the Troy community, graduate of Troy City Schools and as a transmale member of society and spoke last at forum.
“I grew up in Troy. I went to Kyle Elementary, which is a stone’s throw from here. (Current city of Troy Mayor) Michael Beamish was my principal, and I am proud to say I grew up in Troy. I love the community here. I’ve heard a lot wonderful things tonight about parents who have concerns with their kids, which I think is beautiful because loving your child should be the most important thing there is.
“I’m here tonight with my parents because I’m very fortunate to have two parents who love their child. Their child happens to be a transman. As a transman, I’ve experienced life in a different way than other people in this room. There’s been a lot of hatred, even tonight I’ve heard people basically say that the possibility is that I’m a pedophile. That being in the bathroom, that I hurt people.”
Many of the audience members audibly disagreed with Anderson’s last statement before Leembrugen calmed the audience for Anderson to continue.
“I’m telling you, that’s the type of stuff I want dismissed. We are not pedophiles, I simply want to use the restroom. I remember being a child in school, asking the teacher if I could use the restroom. That’s just the same thing that all these children have now. The idea that you have to walk through a doorway that says the opposite of what you know yourself to be, it means that you are less than. The idea that you have to go to a different part of the building means you are less than, and so you are communicating to the transperson that ‘I am less than’ — and that is what leads to stuff like high suicide rates.”
Anderson continued stating he struggled with suicidal thoughts as a transgender youth and encouraged attendees to think about the issue differently. “We can chose love in this moment, in Troy, Ohio. We can choose love.”
Leembrugen agreed with Anderson’s last statement and then closed the forum with information about the group’s website and how attendees could stay informed about the issue by providing their email addresses. Leembrugen also encouraged attendees to attend the Troy City School’s next board meeting, which is set for Sept. 14.
Reach Melanie Yingst at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @Troydailynews