School board electee concerns Canby’s trans community

Clackamas County

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A woman who spoke out in opposition of Canby making a proclamation acknowledging International Transgender Day of Visibility is winning the election to serve on the town’s school board.

In March, Stefani Carlson said to Canby City Council, “If you were to proclaim a special day for transgender people, then in order to be fair to the rest of your citizens, you would need to declare a special day for transexuals, bisexuals, heterosexuals and virgins. The list goes on and on.”

After Election Day, a recently retired teacher told KOIN 6 News that she’s concerned about the students.

“Stefani Carlson showed up to that meeting and her comments were extremely bigoted, extremely bigoted, which was upsetting to me because I know we have in our schools with bullying,” Kathleen Jeskey said. “I know that we have students who have felt marginalized and I know that was hurtful to them.”

Teachers and Canby City Council members said they’re worried the position is filled by someone who won’t respect the rights of all students.

“I’ve had a number of conversations with people in our community who are scared and upset for their children or for children they know who are in the school district who are trans or non-gender conforming,” Councilwoman Sarah Spoon said.

Julie Wills is the founder of the Canby Transgender Alliance and has a child in the district who is transgender.

“I’ve very concerned about how they’re going to be affected by who I worry has an agenda in regard to being on the school board,” she told KOIN 6 News. “We’re your neighbors. We just want our kids to go to school and be safe just the same as you do.”

Councilwoman Spoon said she wants everyone who lives in Canby to feel safe.

“My concern right now is that there are people who A. Don’t feel safe and B. I cannot confirm that they are,” Spoon said.

The chair for the Oregon chapter of GLSEN — an organization working to end bullying for the LGBTQ community in school — is concerned about the school board elections.

“The current school board elections have raised a concern about community efforts to provide safe and supportive resources for all youth, especially within the Canby school system,” Danny Rosen said. “One of the board members has said some particularly troubling comments about transgender and gender non-conforming youth.  Due to these public comments, a question arises about the responsibility of the school board to follow the Oregon Department of Education policies and Administrative Rules”

Carlson’s husband said she stands by what she said in the March city council meeting. However, with the race being so close, she’s waiting to comment on the election. Carlson is winning by 1.6%.

Carlson later released the following statement to KOIN 6 News:

“I’m honored to have been elected by the residents in the Canby School District. Every one of these kids is made in the image of God and I look forward to helping to give them the best educational opportunity possible.”

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