Metro Weekly

School board candidate becomes first transgender person elected in Ohio

Despite his historic victory, Dion Manley says he's just "a dad who happens to be trans" and says he's largely been accepted.

Dion Manley – Photo: Aimee Amer, via Facebook.

An Ohio single dad made history on Tuesday when he was elected to his local school board, becoming the first out trans person elected to office in the Buckeye State.

Dion Manley, 65, told The Columbus Dispatch that he was inspired to run for the Gahanna-Jefferson School Board by his daughter, Lila, currently a senior, and the teachers who provided her with a good education. 

Manley, 65, said his run was all for his daughter, Lila, a Gahanna Lincoln High School senior, and her teachers.

“I canvassed a lot throughout Gahanna, and an important part of my story is I told people that being a single dad, the teachers and schools have been important,” Manley said. “More importantly, Gahanna made a choice, a clear statement for inclusion, trust and collaboration. I am forever grateful to those who believed in me when I struggled with my doubts and against what seemed like unbeatable odds.”

Manley, a health care worker and small business owner, said he wants to ensure that the district’s schools are preparing students to get good jobs.

LGBTQ Victory Fund, an organization that advocates for increased LGBTQ representation in government, celebrated Manley’s historic achievement. Currently, there are just five transgender men serving in elective office anywhere in the country. Manley would become the sixth.

“Dion shattered a lavender ceiling in Ohio and proved voters look beyond gender identity to elect candidates who care about their communities. His victory is especially significant given efforts by anti-trans activists across the nation to target trans students at school board meetings — emphasizing the need for more leaders like Dion to serve,” Annise Parker, the president and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a statement. 

See also: Virginia school district ordered to reinstate teacher who refuses to use trans students’ correct pronouns

“When he takes office, Dion will humanize trans issues for constituents and colleagues and ensure trans students are protected,” Parker added. “It is a milestone moment not just for Ohio, but the entire country.”

Manley downplayed his gender identity in an interview with the Dispatch after winning. 

“While I am honored to be the first transperson elected to office in Ohio, I’m really a dad who happens to be trans,” he said. “My reasons for running for office are my daughter and her amazing teachers. I’ve never tried to hide who I am. When the subject comes up, I talk freely about it.

“What I found from living in Ohio over the past 15 years is that when the subject comes up and I share who I am, what folks care about is that I’m a good dad. That’s what’s important,” he added. “”I am proud to say that I have been welcomed here now more than ever.”

See also:

Pennsylvania candidate becomes first nonbinary person elected to a judicial position in the United States

Anti-LGBTQ Republicans sweep all three statewide races in Virginia, seize control of House of Delegates

Supreme Court declines to hear Catholic hospital’s appeal of transgender patient’s lawsuit

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