JUNE 13 2021: Protest at Brooklyn for trans youth rights
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Marissa Darlingh, a Milwaukee school counselor, is under investigation after making expletive-laced comments about the transgender community during an anti-transgender rally in April. She is currently still working while under investigation.

The state Department of Public Instruction is currently investigating Darlingh for whether there are grounds to revoke her educator license after making the following comments at the rally.

Related: Trans teen dies by suicide after she was “humiliated” by school counselor for wearing a skirt

“Not a single one of my students, under my [expletive] watch, will ever, ever transition socially and sure as hell not medically,” she said. “Absolutely not.”

She went on to say, “[Expletive] transgenderism. [Expletive] it.”

Darlingh made the comments at an April 23 rally in Madison where she named herself and her occupation after stepping up to the mic, drawing cheers from an anti-LGBTQ crowd, according to a video from the event.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Darlingh has not had her job threatened by Milwaukee Public Schools, and she still stands by the comments she made at the rally. She affirms that she would not use names or pronouns self-identified by transgender or non-binary students.

Milwaukee Public Schools spokesperson Earl Arms had this to say about Darlingh’s comments: “The district’s work continues of building a welcoming and inclusive culture that embraces and respects all students, staff, and families.”

But Brian Juchems, co-executive director of GSAFE, an organization that provides training for Wisconsin educators to support LGBTQ students, is surprised to see a school counselor act so cruelly regarding transgender students.

“School counselors, along with school social workers and school psychologists, are often the anchor adults, the lifeline for students, especially trans and non-binary students,” Juchems said. “Most school counselors that I’ve worked with are often the people leading the charge to make sure schools are safe and affirming.”

Juchems goes on to state that Darlingh’s remarks were harmful to students in her school.

“It sends a signal to not only students, but families, who might be looking for the school to provide support to their kiddos, that they’re not welcome in her office, that they’re seen as less-than,” he said.

And Darlingh’s comments could also set a dangerous example.

“It sends a message to students that they don’t have to be kind to their fellow classmates,” he said. “It gives permission for other students or other adults to be particularly unkind and disrespectful.”

Under Milwaukee Public Schools policy, the staff is expected to support students in “whatever level of transition they may choose to undergo.” It is “not acceptable” for staff to intentionally refuse to respect someone’s name, the policy states, and such behavior could be considered discrimination, harassment, or bullying.

A community member reported Darlingh’s remarks and the district is working to determine whether there is probable cause to pursue revoking her license based on “immoral conduct.”

Under the state statute, immoral conduct is defined as endangering the “health, safety, welfare, or education of any pupil.”

According to state data from 2019, about 1% of Wisconsin high school students said they were transgender.

Research has found that transgender students have a lower risk of suicide when they attend schools with an anti-bullying policy and when they feel there is a school staff member with whom they can talk about a problem, the CDC reported.

Darlingh’s comments follow Republican lawmakers’ bills that would affect transgender students in Wisconsin and around the country. These bills would curtail sports participation, access to gender-affirming health care, and the ability of students to identify by their own names and pronouns.

These bills have been called dangerous by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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