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KHSD meeting draws comments on transgender policies, COVID-19 mandates

Community members and pastors from local churches filled the Kern High School District's board meeting room Monday night to speak out against the district's implementation of state policies, particularly involving transgender students and COVID-19 mandates.

At its October meeting, the board listened to 45 minutes of heated comment and even stopped the meeting while it considered a short district proclamation in favor of LGBTQ+ protections and against state mandates related to COVID-19.

At this meeting, a large crowd found a receptive audience from board members.

Trustee Bryan Batey told the crowd that he would resign from the board rather than implement a vaccine mandate from the state.

"I will not support the forced vaccinations of students," he said.

Several pastors and community members spoke about the district's policy regarding where transgender students change clothes for gym class. Superintendent Bryon Schaefer said that the issue would be addressed at the December board meeting.

Some of the speakers stated that allowing transgender students into the girls' locker room could subject girls to being exposed to sexual assailants. They said it was not fair to ask female students to move when they felt uncomfortable.

David Goh, senior pastor of The Garden, asked the board to create a separate area for transgender students to change clothes.

Canyon Hills pastor Wendell Vinson asked the board to "stand up to a state that has lost its way."

"Paleontologists will not find transgender bones," said Pastor Angelo Frazier, a pastor of RiverLakes Community Church.

Trustee Cynthia Brakeman said she didn't know what the alternative was, but she didn't believe asking 50 girls to switch changing rooms seemed fair.

Some speakers, including Vickie Shoenhair, president of the Kern High School Teachers Association, thanked the board for passing its proclamation in favor of LGBTQ+ rights last month.

"We all need to be working together for the safety of all," she said.

Elise Sotello, a teacher in the district, also thanked the board for its proclamation, but she said she was disturbed by the comments she heard from the speakers about transgender students.

"These are students, these are not even adults you’re talking about tonight. These are somebody’s child, somebody’s sibling," she said. "If you’re a follower a Christ, you should love everyone as you claim to do. I don’t feel the love from everyone as you claim to do." 

You can reach Emma Gallegos at 661-395-7394.