Transgender students who pushed for LGBTQ guidelines in Michigan schools had a clear message for those attending Wednesday's State Board of Education meeting: We're not predators. We're not delusional. We just want to be treated like humans.
"I'm not here to be a predator to anyone," said Shane Shananaquet, 15, an Adrian High School student who was responding to concerns raised today and in previous meetings that allowing transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity would pose a safety risk to other students.
Shane, who is transgender, said the guidelines are needed for kids who — unlike him — don't have a supportive environment at home or in school.
"I feel bad for these kids. I worry about them," Shane said.
Corey Maison, a freshman from New Baltimore, said kids "need to be able to go to school and not be afraid of bullying or being beaten up."
The State Board approved the guidelines after a lengthy debate — both among board members and members of the public.
Some who spoke in opposition to the guidelines referred to transgender students as delusional.
"It is not a delusion. It is who I am," said Mack Rasmussen, 17, who attends Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor.
"Trans people just want to learn like everyone else," said Finley Beaver, a junior at Washtenaw Technical Middle College. "While we are a minority, we still matter."
Her final point addressed a point frequently made by opponents: that the guidelines impact a small minority of students at what they say is the expense of all students. Statistics shared at the meeting show about 8.4% of Michigan students identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual.
Violet Seeburger, a sophomore at Huron High School in Ann Arbor, said she will be positively impacted by the guidelines.
Voting to approve the guidelines will make "schools a safer place for LGBT students," she said.
(2016 © Detroit Free Press)