• From left to right the members of the school board targeted for recall: Christopher Lewis, Sarah Belanger, Nancy Deal and Greg Talberg.

3 of 4 Williamston School Board Members Overcome Recalls

Battle Over Policy to Protect Transgender Students, Avoid Federal Lawsuits

By |2018-11-07T09:08:47-05:00November 7th, 2018|Election, LGBTQA Races|

WILLIAMSTON — Voters in this small bedroom community about 15 miles east of downtown Lansing threw out one school board member, but retained three others who were involved in casting controversial votes to protect transgender students. The outcome of this special election, that was put forth by opponents of the transgender-positive school policies, leaves Williamston’s progressive wing intact, but slightly weakened.
School Board Members Sarah Belanger (2,966-2,397), Christopher Lewis (2,835-2,516) and Nancy Deal (3,083-2,279) will maintain their seats. Board President Gregory Talberg was nudged out of office by Karen Potter (2,711 to 2,653). All results are unofficial election results published by the Ingham County Clerk.
The disagreement that resulted in this special election began in Nov. of 2017. That’s when School Board leaders approved policy amendments intended to extend protections for transgender students. A lead up to the vote featured battling testimony from the ACLU and medical leaders, supporting the move; and members of the Great Lakes Justice Center under the leadership of Delta Twp. attorney David Kallman.
Kallman is a well-known opponent of LGBTQ equality under the law. He sued Planet Fitness in Midland over its policy allowing transgender members to use the locker room facilities corresponding with their gender identity. His initial case was dismissed in the circuit court, but a few of the claims put forth that were unrelated to discrimination but to consumer fraud were approved in an Appeals Court ruling. He is also representing several families from Williamston who are suing the district in court over the transgender-friendly policies.
Those who are suing claim that the policies violate the privacy rights and religious beliefs of the youth and families opposed to the rules.

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Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.