By Moriah Balingit and Sandhya Somashekhar
Bob LeFevre Jr.’s reelection campaign for school board this year wasn’t much different from his first run 18 years ago. He relied on word of mouth to carry his message of fiscal stewardship and high-quality education. He repurposed the same yard signs, even though they are getting a little rusty.
But Tuesday — Election Day in the Palatine-Schaumburg area of suburban Chicago — will be anything but routine. The typically low-key school board race has become the epicenter of a national debate over transgender students. The Township High School District 211 election has received national attention and thousands of dollars from outside groups as a slate of conservative candidates seeks to wrest control of the board from LeFevre and other members who voted to allow a transgender girl to use the girls’ locker room at a local high school in 2015.
The election comes as an ever larger number of school districts nationally are grappling with how to accommodate an increasingly visible and vocal cohort of transgender students seeking to use the facilities of their choice. Policies supporting these students have often drawn protests from some of their peers and parents who think transgender students should use facilities based on the gender on their birth certificate. The school board election could have broad repercussions in that fight, as both sides hope it will set a new national standard for how schools balance the needs of transgender students with the privacy of their peers.
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