Date: Mon, 13 Apr 98 11:30:30 CDT
Workers World <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Organization: WW Publishers
Subject: Outrage over transsexual teacher ouster
Wallingford, Conn. school officials forced teacher Scott Hendricks into early retirement. Hendricks, 39, is a well-respected agricultural mechanics instructor who has taught at Lyman Hall High School for nine years.
Why did the board forcibly retire such a popular teacher? Simply because Hendricks is transsexual. Hendricks has begun sex-reassignment from male to female and will reportedly soon pursue a legal name change to Michelle.
Lyman officials attached a gag order to Hendricks' benefits settlement to keep the teacher from speaking out about the forced retirement. School administrators must have hoped this was the end of the story.
Were they ever wrong.
As a formality, the Wallingford Board of Education held a
hearing in March on the issue of Hendricks' early retirement.
But Hendricks is so highly respected and loved that parents, students and members of the local transsexual/transgender community came out to this hearing to show their support for Hendricks and to blast the school board's transphobia.
Seventeen-year-old honor student Daniel Welch described Hendricks as
one of the best teachers I have ever known, and certainly the best
at Lyman Hall.
Nick Economopoulos, a Lyman Hall business teacher for 27 years,
He's a great, caring individual, he said.
don't know of one colleague or student that didn't like
him. Economopoulos added that other teachers have called Hendricks
at home to offer support.
Parent Tom D'allesantro told those gathered,
I'm as conservative as they come, and there has never been an
issue in my head about the propriety of Scott's behavior.
Genevieve Vlake explained that her son, now a junior at Lyman,
struggled academically and had no plans for college until he entered
Now I have a junior who's looking to go
to college because of Mr. Hendricks, she said.
This is a very bad example you're setting and not what I want
for my kid, Vlake concluded.
I don't care what this guy does in his private life, said
an unidentified mother whose son attends the school.
This guy has a
heart full of love for his students. Let's stop making Scott the
scapegoat and our children the victims.
Debra Cohen, whose former spouse is transsexual, asked board members
how they might feel if their children or grandchildren were a
behavioral minority who pose no threat, no danger, who simply ask
to be left alone and live their lives.
Supporter Brenda Pendon asked,
What are we teaching students if we
show that what's between their ears pales in comparison to
what's between their legs?
Parent Dawn Coratelli concluded
I send my daughter to school to
learn, not to judge.
Hendricks' students want their teach er back. And they are raising their voices to make sure they are heard.
Record-Journal journalist Chris Gaither reported that students on their way home from school leaned out the bus windows shouting at the reporter to leave Hendricks alone.
Economopoulos told the media that the students are
upset. He added that
They were hurt that his personal life was
made so public.
I think it's not right, a sophomore named Tena told
If that's what he wants to do, no one should say
anything about it.
Tena's girlfriend C.J. added her two cents.
If you like
someone, you shouldn't care what he does. If he wants to be a
woman, that's his own opinion, his own choice.
The Board of Education could still reverse the Lyman official's bigoted action. The Board must approve all requests for retirement.
This time, it's school officials and the Board of Ed who need an education. And it's the students, their parents and the Lyman faculty who are teaching them this important lesson: Discrimination against transsexuals will not be tolerated.