WEST ALLIS - On the heels of a pivotal federal decision, a well-known conservative activist group returned recently to a West Allis-West Milwaukee School Board meeting and implored officials to refrain from making accommodations for transgender students.
Robert Braun, who has gone on record in recent months in denouncing the district for some of its policy decisions, used the board’s public comment portion to sound off on the debate over transgender students’ rights in such venues as restrooms and locker rooms.
During his lengthy address to the board, Braun, 82, said he remains committed to fighting this issue.
“Even if it kills me, I’m going to take this up and follow this through,” he said last month.
The West Allis-West Milwaukee school District hosts at least two transgender students who are at various stages of transition. The delicacy of the situation prompted Superintendent Marty Lexmond to discuss policy-related issues with the board in December.
Lexmond said the district has not had difficulty accommodating transgender students without impacting the full student body. The students have opted to use private facilities traditionally reserved for faculty members.
raun, who was joined by a few supporters from the local Christian Civil Liberties Union at the board meeting, asserted the district had no legal grounds to make any accommodations for transgender students.
“You cannot write laws,” Braun said to the school board, urging the elected body to back away from the issue. “Who are you? You have no right to pass any sort of so-called bathroom bill.”
Braun’s comments were made after President Donald Trump’s administration unwound federal guidelines that were put in place by former President Barack Obama concerning transgender students’ rights in schools.
With Obama’s directive out of the equation, states and school districts across the U.S. essentially are left to interpret federal anti-discrimination laws for themselves.
“This is an issues best solved at the state and local level,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said as the Obama decisions were overturned.
“Schools, communities and families can find — and in many cases have found — solutions that protect all students.”
Braun lives in West Allis within the district’s boundaries. But other supporters within the CCLU hailed from outside the community, in other corners of the county.
CCLU member Mike Larson said he is opposed to transgender in concept and said the district should focus on getting back to core principles.