The Tucson agenda
Catalina Foothills schools to approve state-ordered policy on transgender sports
Plus more in local gov't meetings this week
In November, an "anti-woke" slate of candidates for the Catalina Foothills Unified School District Governing Board got trounced at the polls.
The three-person team of candidates all barely managed to break into double digit percentages of support from voters in the well-off, sloping suburbs.
Still, the district will vote Tuesday to approve a policy to conform to a new state law forbidding the inclusion of transgender athletes in girl's sports.
So, yeah, the same Arizona lawmakers who didn't think a pandemic that killed people was worth a mask mandate, have determined that a non-existent transgender juggernaut over girls' high school athletics requires immediate action.
The unbeatable transgender athlete is not a thing. Trans athletes in general are so rare that worrying about them should be 13,823rd on a list of things to worry about made by someone who is actually worried about them. But even when they do exist, and compete in high school sports, they're not automatic winners.
In fact, I'll get all scientific here and quote from Scientific American:
It turns out that when transgender girls play on girls’ sports teams, cisgender girls can win. In fact, the vast majority of female athletes are cisgender, as are the vast majority of winners. There is no epidemic of transgender girls dominating female sports. Attempts to force transgender girls to play on the boys’ teams are unconscionable attacks on already marginalized transgender children, and they don’t address a real problem. They’re unscientific, and they would cause serious mental health damage to both cisgender and transgender youth.
One list of transgender athletic success found just 17 instances at the world or national level since 2019 in which transgender women took home a trophy. One of them was in snooker.
Even so, Arizona's GOP is taking their cue from the trumped-up Fox News trans panic, and clutching at their pearls while they take a poke at things with a stick.
What this law is about is telling GOP voters they should be afraid of the unfamiliar, and making damn sure transgender students are told they're the ones who are unfamiliar and don't belong, and everyone knows it.
See, it's just like the new push underway by the Arctic Heritage Preservation Council to ban whites from racing in the Iditarod, as it's an act of cultural mis-appropriation of Indigenous sled-dog racing. The Alaska Sled Dogging Association, which runs the Anchorage to Nome event, is now run by an Indigenous majority and is expected to approve the prohibition at its January meeting.
I made every bit of that Alaska tale up. Even the organization names are fictional.
However, every MAGA white man reading it stopped and said "WTF?"
To each of you I say: You were never going to run the Iditarod. Never, bro. You get tired walking around Walmart. But you felt excluded and hurt because that's what happens when you block someone from doing something based on what they are and not who they are.
So imagine how Catalina Foothills kids who are transgender are going to feel knowing they can't play girls' volleyball. It's not like they don't have enough emotional stress to deal with. Let's tell everyone that "we have rules against your kind." It's not enough to have a fake target to rile up close-minded people. The GOP is making sure that fake target has real victims.
This is what kills me every time any issue like this comes up: We all know where society is going to be in 10 years. We're going to be fine with transgender folks. We'll look back on these rules and say "They were a mistake." There will even be — I guarantee — a crazy MAGA uncle in the stands cheering on his transgender niece's basketball team. And he'll bitch about the officiating.
Why do we have to go through this exclusionary crap every single time someone "different" wants to feel like they are an equal player in our society?
The voters in the Foothills are already there.
Anyway, the district is just complying with state law.
The board will also vote on a series of new rules that allow parents access to school resources like textbooks, library collections, teacher evaluations and other stuff now allowed by another state law.
Parental involvement is good. A single whacked-out-on-Alex Jones mom hijacking an entire class to claim that frogs are gay is different.
Superintendent Mary Kamerzell is suggesting the appointment of an ad-hoc committee to study how parents can be more involved with the homework, attendance and cooperation.
The board will also vote on a whole litany of new textbooks parents will have 60 days to review. They are all part of the core curriculum.
This is usually where I discuss the nature of the books but the list is eight pages long. There's a book about Christopher Columbus. There are books about Mayans and Aztecs. There's a book about the interconnectivity of Earth's systems. And there's bunch of online resources, including "Arizona Kids Resources from the Governor's Office."
All I ask is that anyone complaining about a textbook or resource, should at least read it.
Sunnside Unified School District's Governing Board, which has a new member who may or may not be at this meeting, will vote on a new compensation plan to keep up with other districts in Southern Arizona.
The salaries would take effect in 2023-24.
The salary plan will cost $3.75 million and increases pay between 2 percent and 13 percent. The raises would be for teachers, district professionals and administrators.
The median of the 30-year pay scale (not the median salary because not all teachers stay to earn the money of a 16-year veteran) is a little less than $60,000 a year for teachers and just below $70,000 for other professionals in technology, finance, law and transportation.
Administrators in the middle of the pay scale would earn just south of six figures. The highest possible paid position in leadership would be $137,000.
The good news is that the budget this year looks like it's going to be $4.1 million more than budgeted. The board will vote on a plan to spend $228,000 in the classroom and $526,000 in "unrestricted capital." That's big ticket items that will likely be part of the general fund.
Down in Sahuarita, the Town Council has moved to spend $233,000 of its massive fund balance to pay for pavement preservation.
This is smart policy. Problems with pavement only get worse and far more expensive over time. Saving money by failing to keep up streets is like pocketing a little extra by refusing to pay for oil changes.
It's even more true sitting on top of a $50 million stash.
Aside from that, the usually reliable Sahuarita Council is providing me little to work with. I mean, how interesting is the Rancho Sahuarita Facilities Governing Board's expected vote on a $50,000 amendment to a contract for cooperative purchases with the city of Litchfield Park?
Yeah, me too.
The rest of the governing boards and councils either met last week or are off for the holidays.
Blake Morlock is an award-winning columnist, who worked in daily journalism for nearly 25 years and is the former communications director for the Pima County Democratic Party.