Out electeds rip Manhattan community education council over anti-trans sports resolution

PS 111 at 440 W. 53rd St. is one of dozens of schools in Community Education Council 2.
PS 111 at 440 W. 53rd St. is one of dozens of schools in Community Education Council 2.
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Manhattan’s Community Education Council District 2 on March 20 voted in favor of a resolution calling for the formation of a new committee that could review and potentially oppose trans inclusion in school sports, prompting swift blowback from state and local elected officials and political clubs.

The Community Education Council, which operates independently from the city’s Department of Education, is responsible for giving members of the public — including parents — an opportunity to express themselves about school-related issues in a public forum. There are 32 such council districts across the city, and they are viewed as liaisons between the people and the government, according to Community Education Council District 2.

The councils take up a range of issues — other resolutions approved on the same day pertained to topics such as early voting at schools and school safety — but the wider attention was focused squarely on a resolution that took issue with section 9 of the New York City Department of Education’s Guidelines on Gender, which state that students “must be permitted to participate in physical education, intramural sports, and competitive athletic activities and contact sports in accordance with the student’s gender identity asserted at school.”

The resolution showed clear hostility toward trans student-athletes, saying the city’s guidelines on gender “had an immediate and far-reaching impact on classroom instruction” and “present challenges to youth athletes and coaches,” including “preserving and acknowledging decades of progress by NYC PSAL female athletes to achieve sports equity,” which echoes bogus arguments peddled by anti-trans, right-wing politicians pushing anti-trans sports policies.

Members voted 8-3 in favor of the resolution, which was sponsored by Maud Maron — who is already known for anti-LGBTQ rhetoric — as well as Allyson Bowen, Sabena Serinese, and Len Silverman. 

The resolution calls for New York City Public Schools to convene a new committee to create guidelines that include members such as “NYC PSAL female athletes, parents, coaches, relevant medical professionals and evolutionary biology experts.” The committee would be “authorized to propose amendments, changes, and additions to the Gender Guidelines, which are the result of an inclusive, evidence-based process concerning the impact on female athletes when the category of sex is replaced by gender identity.”

Dubbed Resolution #248, the vote was non-binding and elected officials said New York State and City law protects the ability of trans student-athletes to participate in sports in accordance with their gender identity.

Four out Manhattan lawmakers — Councilmember Erik Bottcher, State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, Assemblymembers Deborah Glick and Tony Simone — issued a joint statement condemning the resolution.

“As LGBTQ elected officials representing vibrant and diverse districts in Manhattan that are covered by Community Education Council District 2 (CEC D2), we are outraged that CEC D2 is considering a resolution targeting transgender girls in sports,” the lawmakers stated. “It is utterly shocking that such a regressive and harmful resolution is being proposed in a school district that covers much of Manhattan, including the neighborhoods of Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea and Greenwich Village, the birthplace of the modern LGBTQ civil rights movement, and neighborhoods that are home to the largest LGBTQ communities in the United States.” 

The elected officials also called on the New York City Department of Education to uphold current guidelines allowing trans student-athletes to play sports in accordance with their gender identity. The press office for the city’s Department of Education did not respond to Gay City News’ request for comment on March 21, but a department spokesperson told Politico that “every student can participate in sports and competitive athletics in accordance with their gender identity, and we prohibit any exclusion of students based on their gender identity or expression.”

“Resolution #248 is based on the false premise that the gender identity policy negatively impacts female athletes, and stems from the misguided notion that the inclusion of transgender students in sports diminishes the experience of other student athletes,” the elected officials said in their joint statement. “In addition, this resolution not only goes against the principles of fairness and inclusion, but also perpetuates harmful stereotypes and bias against a population that is already subject to vicious discrimination and harassment.”

Another out lawmaker, State Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas of Queens, also condemned the resolution.

“I recently learned about the completed suicide of a young trans person in my neighborhood,” González-Rojas wrote in a post on X. “What @CECDistrict 2 has done is dangerous and puts the lives of young people at risk.”

The Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City, a citywide LGBTQ political club, also slammed Community Education Council District 2 ahead of the vote and called on individuals to vote against it.

“As members of an organization dedicated to the rights of LGBTQ New Yorkers, we are deeply concerned by attacks on young LGBTQ people across the country, and are dismayed to see the misleading and harmful rhetoric used in other geographies come to New York City,” the club said in a written statement. “Trans kids are kids And deserve the right to grow and become themselves without hate and harassment.”

Sean Ebony Coleman, who leads the non-profit Destination Tomorrow, also spoke out against the resolution.

“The recent resolution passed by Manhattan District 2 community school board is yet another act of violence against Transgender folk, reflecting the same fear-mongering, othering and transphobia of the Nassau County Trans sport ban,” Coleman said in a written statement. “This resolution will open the door to future acts of discrete gender policing and demonization, which will endanger the well-being of our Transgender children. As we approach Transgender Day of Visibility, we must mobilize not only allies, but the LGB community to show authentic allyship and urge policymakers to reject any future measures that could perpetuate more violence.”

According to CBS News, one of the parents who attended the meeting in opposition to the resolution was Chase Strangio, an out trans attorney who serves as the deputy director for Transgender Justice with the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project. Strangio was accompanied by actor Elliot Page.

“I’ve seen young people die by suicide because of relentless bullying,” Strangio said, according to CBS News. 

As news of the resolution circulated in the press, Community Education Council District 2 took to X to say “there are inaccurate media articles about our meeting last night” — but did not say what was not accurate — and encouraged folks to read the resolution.

The resolution’s approval comes as New York has gradually found its way into the national discussion on trans sports inclusion at a time when many red states have passed laws barring trans student-athletes from participating in sports in accordance with their gender identity. Most recently, Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman signed an anti-trans executive order in late February barring trans athletes from playing sports in county facilities, prompting New York Attorney General Letitia James to send Blakeman a cease and desist letter on March 1 demanding that he rescind the order or face legal action. Blakeman, for his part, responded by suing James in federal court, while a women’s roller derby league known as the Long Island Roller Rebels filed their own suit against Blakeman.