Comments to the Board Oct 2023

October 24, 2023

Good evening, Chairwoman Mrs. Lichter, Vice Chair Mrs. Harvey, Superintendent Dr. Rogers, and members of the board.

Thank you for letting me speak on behalf of CASE.

Rights of Transgender Students and Employees

I’d like to speak to you tonight about the rights of transgender students and employees. The federal government, the Maryland state government, and the Baltimore County government all recognize transgender people as a protected class. An announcement from the pentagon stated the Defense Department proudly recognizes transgender and gender non-conforming people and their continued struggle for equality, security and dignity. “There is no place for violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression.”

The American Medical Association Journal of Ethics states:
Transgender rights stem from human rights, i.e., those fundamental rights belonging to every person. Persons with either cisgender (in which assigned and experienced gender are the same) or transgender identities deserve to live and flourish in their communities—with freedom to learn, work, love, and play—and build lives connected with others at home, in the workplace, and in public settings without fear for their safety and survival. These deeply personal decisions are and should be the prerogative of the individual and deserve the law’s protection.

Research also shows that transgender children are put at higher risk of attempted suicide or mental health challenges when they face bullying, rejection, or denial of health care.

In previous BCPS board meetings there have been uninformed conversations about bathrooms and locker rooms. I suspect those arguments happen because the topic is easily distorted to become salacious by using outrageous examples that aren’t real and are designed to cause fear. The solutions to those questions have some simple and commonplace answers. Most public businesses have gender neutral bathroom options. BCPS schools and offices can easily do the same.

If the idea of transgender students and staff makes you uncomfortable, I encourage you to do some research and reading. No one is asking you to give up your beliefs and rights. What you are being asked to do is support the rights of others as a public official and leader.

I say all of this because I need you to know that your conversations and decisions in these board meetings matter. Your public comments can inspire the community to show compassion and understanding or they can inspire the community to continue the legacy of hate and discrimination. Your comments can inspire a child that feels alone and unsupported or your comments can reinforce their fear and isolation.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak.

—Billy Burke, Executive Director