Education

Colorado school board member now infamous for opposing transgender bathroom laws

A school board member in western Colorado has courted controversy after suggesting that children in public schools should only use the designated bathrooms that match their genitalia.

Delta County School Board member Katherine Svenson made the comments at a school board meeting in October, reports local CBS affiliate KREX.

Svenson, 71, distributed an article from a conservative pamphlet called Education Reporter at the meeting. The article described a new California law that allows transgender students to choose the bathrooms they want to use and the sports teams they want to join regardless of their gender at birth. (RELATED: California’s choose-your-own locker room law faces ballot drive)

“I would like to pass out something that shows people what is going on in the rest of the country,” she explained. “Massachusetts and California have passed laws relating to calling a student — irrespective of his biological gender — letting him perform as the gender he thinks he is, or she is, and I want to emphasize, and they’re actually talking about joining girls sports teams going in the girls locker rooms and bathrooms. And I just want to emphasize: not in this district. Not until the plumbing’s changed. There would have to be castration in order to pass something like that around here.”

Since the October meeting, unidentified people have complained about Svenson’s warning.

“One of the board members said that she had gotten comments from my district, that the people are very unhappy with me commenting, they’re very abashed about what I said,” she told KREX.

Svenson also said she worries that the issue could come to Colorado soon, but has no plans to back down.

“I don’t have a problem if some boys think they are girls. I’m just saying as long as they can impregnate a woman, they’re not going to go in the girls locker-room,” she told KREX.

The KREX reporter covering the story seized solely on Svenson’s comment about castration, took them literally and asked assistant superintendent Kurt Clay if he supports removing student’s genitals.

“Absolutely not,” Clay answered.

“We truly believe in Delta County School District, that every student has different needs, and that we are here to address those individual needs,” he added.

There is already a precedent in Colorado for choose-your-own-bathroom and locker room rights for transgender students.

In June, the Colorado Civil Rights Division decided in favor of a transgender first-grader who had been prohibited from using the girls’ bathroom at a public elementary school. (RELATED: Transgender first-grader wins civil rights suit after girls’ bathroom ban)

The student, Coy Mathis, was born biologically male but wears girls’ clothes all the time. The six-year-old had also been using the girls’ bathroom at Eagleside Elementary in Fountain, Colo. near Colorado Springs.

The ruling by the state’s civil rights division, which enforces anti-discrimination laws, decreed that Mathis was a victim of illegal discrimination.

The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund filed the complaint on behalf of Mathis and his family.

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