School board elects officers, addresses ongoing criticism of support for transgender students

The Edmonds School District Board of Directors speaks about negative public comments.

The Edmonds School District Board of Directors at its Tuesday, Dec. 13, meeting voted to reelect Nancy Katims as its president, Deborah Kilgore as vice president and Carin Chase as legislative representative.

Per the school district’s policy, the three positions must be voted on each fall. Katims, Kilgore and Chase will continue to serve in these roles until fall of 2023, when new board elections are held.

“I want to thank my board colleagues for their trust in me,” Katims said. “We work really well as a team, and I really appreciate that.”

In other business, the board unanimously approved the revised district policy for architectural and engineering services as well as a policy for purchasing 436 new security cameras through the district’s 2022-23 security upgrades project.

The $1.4 million upgrade will replace a handful of old cameras in the district but will mainly fund new cameras to be installed in addition to the existing ones already in schools.

Additionally, following numerous ongoing public comments during board meetings expressing disapproval of the district’s acceptance of transgender students, Board President Katims and two student representatives spoke out about the matter.

“I think one of the biggest things we forget is that we’re not just demographics; we’re people,” student advisor Peter Garcia said. “Everyone has their own life journeys that they’re going on and it’s so important to respect those journeys because they’re not your journey. They are how these people are going to live their lives and how they’re going to find happiness for themselves.”

Ohanna Jimenez, a trans student advisor, said the constant string of negative comments hurts them and others in the district.

“I’m really disappointed, not with the board, but with some of the people that spoke publicly,” Jimenez said. “I am a student; I am trans. I believe my life should be valued for a life. Not because it’s a transgender life, but because I want to live. So, thank you for speaking out, but it really hurts me. And I know it doesn’t hurt just me. It hurts a lot of people.”

Katims also voiced her disappointment with the numerous negative opinions that continue to be read during each board meeting. Trying to hold back tears, she said she couldn’t understand why people wanted to target the district’s most vulnerable students.

“Public comments made that are against any group of our students hurt my heart,” Katims said. “We hear it meeting after meeting and I don’t understand why you feel it’s necessary … to make damaging comments about a group of our students. In our district, everybody counts; everybody is important. And we as a board have made that clear.”

The Edmonds School Board will be taking the next few weeks off to enjoy the holidays and will resume its bi-weekly meetings on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023.

— By Lauren Reichenbach

  1. I’m glad that ESD has worked to create an inclusive environment, in particular with regards to supporting trans and gender divers students. Well done, ESD. Keep it up. (Mom of 3 kids in ESD)

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