Decatur trans woman makes history in election to school board


Alana Banks made history when she became the first Black out transgender woman elected to a U.S. school board on Tuesday.

“This is a very humbling and rewarding experience,” said Banks. “I’m very thankful that my community has entrusted me with such great responsibility. It’s exciting to look back and realize that I’ve been an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and protections since I was 15 years old.”

Illinois held consolidated elections on Tuesday, April 6, for offices such as township boards, park board and school boards. Banks was one of four candidates running to replace incumbents who decided not to run for reelection.

“In the last five years, openly-LGBTQI+ candidates winning elections has become the new normal,” said Dave Bentlin, president of the board for Prairie Pride Coalition in Bloomington/Normal. “Having said that, it is a game-changer to have Alana win a seat on the Decatur Public School Board of Education. Her life experiences and lens as a Black trans woman bring a level of inclusiveness and insight to the board that was heretofore missing.” 

“LGBTQI+ history was made, right here in central Illinois.”

“Trans people remain severely underrepresented in all levels of government,” said Equality Illinois CEO Brian Johnson. “Banks will be a powerful voice for change and will inspire more Trans people to run for office in their communities. Now more than ever, we need Trans voices in rooms of power.”

“I am pleased to be a positive representation for Black trans women around the country,” Banks said. “Given that we still have such a long way to go, I feel that my win is also a win for the Black trans and GNC community.”

Even before her election, Banks had been fighting to protect LGBTQ students in the district. In August 2020, she submitted a proposal to the school board to address the unique challenged facing gender non-conforming students. She has also served as an Illinois Court Appointed Special Advocate for neglected and abused children and advocated for LGBTQ employees as an intern with the U.S. Department of the Interior.

“This historic win isn’t just a win for me, but for our district, our students, our community and for those that are finding their voice to be who they are meant to be,” she said. 

The Decatur Herald & Review reported that Banks and the other new school board members would be seated at a special board meeting on May 3 or 4



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