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A school board member in Evansville, Ind., responded to concerns about trans youth suicides by telling LGBTQ activists to “cry me a river!”
Members of LGBTQ organization Tri-State Alliance caught the outburst on video while attending an Evansville-Vanderburgh County School Corporation board meeting on Nov. 25, the Advocate reports.
Tri-State attempted to highlight the need for greater protections for LGBTQ students, particularly transgender youth who are at increased risk of suicidal ideation, but those concerns were rebuffed by board member Ann Ennis.
Ennis reportedly said that board members didn’t support addressing the issue, which led Tri-State Alliance President Wally Paynter to call her “transphobic.”
In a video posted to the group’s Facebook page, Ennis can be seen playing an imaginary violin while saying, “Cry me a river.”
“Oh, cry us a river about the kids that have died?” a member of Tri-State responds, as Ennis leaves the room. “You’re a shitty person.”
According to the Advocate, the school district has policies in place to protect students from discrimination based on sexuality, but not gender identity.
Transgender students must use facilities that match their gender assigned at birth, despite a court ruling earlier this year which found that the district had violated a trans youth’s rights by denying him access to the boy’s restroom.
Prior to the meeting, Cameron Jordan, who facilitates Tri-State’s trans support group, told the Courier & Press that the organization wanted to help the school board “put in protections for trans students because the students that don’t get their correct gender markers or names used.”
“It’s like they don’t want to protect our kids,” Jordan said, noting the board had pushed back on previous attempts to protect trans youth. “I have three kids, all three of them are trans, and I want those protections in place for them because I want them to be safe.”
Since Tri-State’s video of Ennis was published, a Change.org petition has been launched asking the board to remove her as a member for her comments.
A recent national survey by the Trevor Project found that 39% of young LGBTQ people had seriously considered suicide, with almost one-third of trans and nonbinary youth following through on those thoughts by attempting suicide.
“Suicide is an ongoing public health crisis for young people in the U.S., especially among LGBTQ youth,” Amit Paley, the CEO and executive director of The Trevor Project, said at the time.
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