Three school board members resign after transgender student debate

Three school board members resign after transgender student debate
Lila Perry
Lila Perry

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Three of the seven members of a suburban St. Louis school board have resigned amid a debate over a transgender high school student’s request to be allowed to use the girls bathrooms.

During a special meeting of the Hillsboro R-3 school board on Thursday, the four remaining members accepted the resignations of the board’s president, John Stewart, its vice president, Dan McCarthy, and its director, Charles “Bo” Harrison, Superintendent Aaron Cornman said.

None of the letters — most of them only a sentence or two — stated specific reasons for the departures, Cornman later told The Associated Press.

Cornman refused to link the resignations to recent unrest over transgender Hillsboro High School senior Lila Perry, saying that doing so “would be hearsay and gossip, and I’m not going to enter into that.”

“What they wrote (in their resignation letters) is what they wrote,” he said.

Neither Stewart nor McCarthy immediately responded to messages left Thursday at their home phone numbers, and Harrison doesn’t have a listed number. Board members have not spoken publicly about the issue involving Perry.

Perry, 17, was born male but identifies as female and wears a long wig and a skirt to school. She has said she wants to be treated like other female students and told school administrators she wasn’t content continuing to use a gender-neutral faculty bathroom instead of being allowed to use the girls bathrooms. Perry this school year began using the girls locker room for gym class, though it was not immediately clear Thursday whether that was with administrators’ blessings.

During a board meeting last month, parents expressed concern that Perry was getting special rights at the expense of other students. And on Aug. 31, the dispute produced dual walkouts — one by the school’s gay-straight alliance and other Perry supporters, and the other by students opposing special accommodations for her.

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