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You remember Ocean County, NJ, right?  If not, perhaps you recall the Ocean County Board of Freeholders persisted for months in denying the partner inheritance of a dying police officer.  Finally relenting last month, the board voted for fairness to all their employees, straight and gay, and granted Lt. Hester the right to pass her pension on to her surviving partner. Hester died last Saturday.

What the County Freeholders gave, the Eagleswood School District in Ocean County may take away for another group of sexual minorities if they allow themselves to cave into a single yet vocal parent.

Lily McBeth is a 71 year old substitute teacher in the district.  She became a substitute teacher nine years ago after a career in marketing. Despite her age, Lily is considered one of the best they have, and in the entire state, according to district officials.

But Ms. McBeth is transgender.  It was only a year ago that she completed the process of becoming the woman she always was.  

A parent of two children enrolled in the lower grades of the district, 39 year old Mark Schnepp has raised objections to her presence in the schools.  He claims it is an affront to his convictions and a violation of his religious beliefs.  Intending to publicize his fears, he took out a full page ad in a local paper stating his objections to Ms. MacBeth spreading trans cooties teaching his children and asked other parents to join him at the next school board meeting this Monday, February 28.

The school board has indicated they will consider the issue in a closed session.  The school board was aware that McBeth was transgender when they hired her after performing a full background check.

Thankfully, Ms. McBeth is probably protected from this type of frivolity and hatefulness. In 2001, the NJ Appellate Court ruled that denying employment to someone because they are transgender is sexual discrimination.  However, transgender inclusive language has yet to be written into the state's anti-discrimination laws.

According to a GSE-Zogby poll conducted last summer, 70% of those surveyed and 250 clergy from a wide variety of religious institutions indicated their support for transgender-inclusive discrimation laws in the state.

Rallying behind Ms. McBeth is Garden State Equality and Gender Rights Advocacy Association of NJ.  Members of the queer community and allies are being asked to attend the school board meeting on Monday at 7pm.  

The Eagleswood School District board meeting is held at 511 Main St. Westwood, NJ. Westwood is in the southern part of Ocean County.

If you can make it on Monday, please do.  It's important that we don't allow wingnutters who are quick to claim their bigotry is religious discrimation to reclaim the rights we have fought for in NJ.

Alternatively if you can't attend the meeting, you can express your support for Ms. McBeth at the district website.  The school district is composed of only the single elementary school. Please take a moment to let the district know you support Ms. McBeth and deserves to do the job she loves.

More information can be found at 365gay.com and in the Asbury Park Press.

Originally posted to tvb on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 11:57 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  tip jar (4.00)
    I need to run out for a few minutes but will be around to chat about this shortly.

    Hell, there are no rules here - we're trying to accomplish something. -- Thomas A. Edison

    by tvb on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 11:57:03 AM PST

  •  sad (4.00)
    It's sad that we're still having this type of debate.  One of the primary philosophies our Constitution was built upon was the concept that personal freedom requires the ability to determine your own destiny as long as you aren't interfering with the freedom of another individual.  

    Ms. McBeth's transgender status has absolutely no impact on anyone.

    Mr. Schnepp, on the other hand, has crossed that line.  And no, Mr. Schnepp, personal freedom does not include the freedom to be a bigot who demands his intolerances be shared by everyone else.

    However, if he wants to spend the rest of his life stewing in his own contempt in the privacy of his own thoughts, he is certainly free to do just that.  

  •  My heart sank on seeing the title. (4.00)
    At least some justice has been done.  

    One thing so amazing about this case is that, as you put it, the guy is taking it personally.  Is he really phrasing it in terms of his convictions?  Are we talking about advanced narcissism or what?

    IMPEACH

    -5.75; -7.44

    by JPete on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 12:42:33 PM PST

    •  yes (none)
      According to the two articles I found along with the email alert I received, it does seem to be a personal problem of the wingnutter, Mark Schnepp.  He took out the ad detailing his bigotry.  Ms. McBeth was simply minding her business and doing her job.

      Hell, there are no rules here - we're trying to accomplish something. -- Thomas A. Edison

      by tvb on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 01:10:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Double, Double...Toil and Trouble (none)
    I just sent the following to the school superintendent of the district involved:

    Dear Ms. Snyder:

    I have just now heard about a complaint lodged against Ms. MacBeth, one of the teachers in your school district.  I'm not a resident of your district, nor do I have any children attending Ms. MacBeth's classroom; but I do have a very real interest in fundamental fairness.  

    To me, it's incredible that this complaint can even be taken seriously.  By all accounts, Ms. MacBeth is a very good teacher.  What in the world does her sexual/gender orientation have to do with her talents as a teacher....OR her value as a human being?

    The complainant in this matter ought to go back to school himself and take a class in civics or basic Constitutional law.  Then, he ought to go back to his minister/priest/rabbi/imam/guru and request a refresher course on moral/ethical behavior.

    Please do not put Ms. MacBeth through some kind of sideshow just to satisfy one bigot.  She does not deserve to be subjected to such a meanspirited public attack.

    Thank you.

    "Don't wait to be hunted to hide." - Samuel Beckett

    by aybayb on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 01:04:58 PM PST

  •  This is flat-out disgusting (none)
    There are still religious groups that preach that blacks bear the Mark of Cain and are thus inferior to whites--but we don't allow their religious beliefs to determine policy.

    Mr. Schnepp should enroll his child in a religious school if he doesn't want her dealing with people whose beliefs differ from his.

    And someone should call him a bigot to his face.

    I hope the GBL community stands behind this teacher--but I've run up against prejudice among the gay community towards the intersexed and transgender community--as well as against people in the leather/fetish lifestyle (it was hilarious to see how quickly the gay bar that hosted goth/fetish night on Mondays cleared out as soon as the fetish and Goths crowd arrived).

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 01:08:04 PM PST

    •  maybe (none)
      Maybe they are afraid you will recruit them :)

      Hell, there are no rules here - we're trying to accomplish something. -- Thomas A. Edison

      by tvb on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 01:39:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nah. (none)
        They were just utterly mundane gay men who looked like they'd bought their lives from Abercrombie and Fitch and J.Crew.

        PVC worn by women upset them.  But then so did our occasional drag queen.  It was funny that when they did a srg show, MOST of the people attending were straight women or couples.

        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

        by irishwitch on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 01:45:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for diarying this, tvb... (none)
    ...I got a note from Goldstein this morning about it while I was in class.  Fortunately, New Jersey is the only state in the union where gender identity is a protected class.  Let's hope that cooler heads prevail.

    Robyn

    Teacher's Lounge opens each Saturday, sometime between 10am and 11am EST

    by rserven on Mon Feb 27, 2006 at 10:29:06 AM PST

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