Batavia school board member’s FB comment seen as threat to anti-trans parents


BATAVIA — John Dryden, a school board member in Batavia, has been accused of making a threat to parents who had criticized the board’s handling and opposed allowing a transgender student to use the locker room of their choice.

The Daily Herald in Arlington Heights reported Kelly Sullivan had filed a police report a day after a school board meeting where she and other parents had criticized how the board handled allowing a transgender middle school student access to locker rooms and restrooms.

From the Daily Herald:

After the meeting, Dryden posted on Facebook:

“Sometimes School Board meetings are like Mr. Toad’s wild ride. (Enjoy it on BATV.) You can watch me try really hard not to launch myself over the table and strangle an anti-transgender lynch mob. The Board Comments at the end are worth listening to. Cheers Batavia — let’s move ahead, not backwards …”

In an interview, Sullivan said the board was rude to the parents and Dryden’s Facebook comment was a threat.

She said she also is afraid because many commenters on Dryden’s page accused the parents of bigotry and discrimination.

Dryden has denied the post was a threat but stands by his comment.

“I watched a lot of people throw a middle school kid under the bus,” he told the newspaper. He said he’d actually had to leave the room after some comments from parents.

“In a disappointing turn of events, their bullying tactics are now directed at me,” he wrote in a statement sent to the Daily Herald. “While I find this sort of thing distasteful, I would much rather their anger and angst be focused on me than directed towards an innocent middle school child.”

Parents were objecting to not being told a head of time that the student, who identifies as a girl, would be attending the school and that she wasn’t given alternative facilities.

Dryden said that federal law requires that transgender students be given access to school facilities. He also objected to parents misgendering her.

“I hope we can respect the person’s right to be addressed by their preferred pronoun,” Dryden said.

Batavia Superintendent Lisa Hichens said the district is following legal advice and its own equal opportunity policy. Privacy laws preclude the district from telling parents or other students personal information about another student, she told the newspaper.

“We would never discuss personal private information about a student without their permission,” Hichens said. “It’s the law.”

She also said it was up to families to prepare students for encountering transgender people offered resources for that conversation.