How long will you be on the school board?
Though the typically school board term is 6 years, since this is a special election, my term will be 2 years. I will serve the duration of that term unless I can guarantee my replacement by a similarly-qualified concurrent student in the Boise School District after my graduation.
Who are you challenging for the school board seat?
I'm challenging incumbent Steve Schmidt for a board seat. Schmidt was appointed (not elected) to the board in December 2021. He is supported by the Boise Schools Parents Association, which advocated strongly against Covid-19 safety protocols and social-emotional learning in schools. Idaho Liberty Dogs, a group that has threatened teachers and staged armed protests outside of libraries and elected officials' homes, also endorsed Schmidt. Schmidt opposes the ballot initiative to fund K-12 schools in Idaho, the Quality Education Act (Source).
Are you old enough to hold this office?
Yes. One of the limiting factors to student school board membership is age. You must be 18 on the day of the election to run for BSD board. Since elections are typically the second Tuesday of the school year, few students are eligible to run. My birthday is August 30, a week before the election, so I am old enough to run. As a trustee, I will work to establish a full voting student position on the school board so that more students can serve in the future.
How can we ensure students continue to be included on the school board?
Some may remember that a student applied to fill the empty seat on the school board last autumn. Though the school board refused to give her an interview, they worked to set up a BSD youth advisory council, which will be established this fall. Unfortunately, the purpose of this council is to mitigate student concerns away from the BSD board and towards other students. These students will not have voting power and will not significantly be included in policy and appropriation deliberations. Student membership on the school board shouldn't be a resume item, it should be a legitimate representation of student voice in government.
Last fall, the school board cited the district charter for why a voting student position hasn't been established. As a trustee, I'll work with district lawyers to find ways to work around the charter to ensure students have a real seat at the table when making decisions on our education.
How will you balance conflict of interest when making decisions regarding your teachers and peers?
I will uphold the same ethical standards that all trustees are held to. I will recuse myself from any decision-making directly relating to a current or former teacher, coach, or peer of mine. I will maintain the same confidentiality standards and seriousness of purpose as any other trustee.
Don't students have enough opportunities for leadership within student councils and clubs?
As a two-year student council member and my school's first ASB Vice President who was not a senior, I have tried to work within the current system for a voice at the decision-making table. Unfortunately, student councils' primary role is to host events and dances. Though I worked to expand this role, helping to create a land acknowledgement, install urinal dividers, and fund menstrual product dispensers at my school, my efforts to take on real leadership within the school district were met with red tape because I had no role in the decision-making body that actually drives school policy. I believe that students and not just parents should work together to set policy for our education.
Won't you split the 'sane' vote in this school board election and allow an extremist to win?
Several members of the school board have expressed concerns with my campaign suggesting that I may split the vote and allow an extremist to win. However, there are only two candidates remaining in Race #4, so I will not split the vote.
What is your position on book bans?
The Boise School District already has a process in place to allow parents to request alternative material for their students. There is also a localized procedure to review materials being assigned in schools to ensure that they are age appropriate and meet curriculum standards. What happened in the Nampa School District where board member circumvented a similar procedure was extremely disheartening. I stand strongly against book bans and censorship of any kind in our schools. Free access to information is the cornerstone of a democratic civil society, and I refuse to back down to the small group of extremists that have peddled falsehoods about what is being taught in Boise schools and elsewhere across the state. Book bans are also a huge academic disadvantage to students. I'm taking AP English Literature this year at Boise High. If I attended school in Nampa, I wouldn't read 3 of the 10 books in the College Board curriculum for that class, reducing my affinity to compete with students across the county. On the school board, I will continue to advocate for student dignity and teacher freedom.
What is your position on the teaching of Critical Race Theory in the Boise School District?
I was upset by the actions of out-of-state organizations and extremist elected leaders in spreading falsehoods about what is taught in Idaho's schools to undermine public education as a whole. The Boise School District does not indoctrinate students. Critical Race Theory is taught only in university Law schools. It is illegal to teach Critical Race Theory in Idaho K-12 public schools, and my experience as a student is that it has never been taught.
What disappointed me most about our district's response to allegations of indoctrination was the lack of support for our educators. District leaders did not provide teachers with adequate guidance on H377 nor defend our educators against extremist attacks. The result of a lack of support for our teachers was intimidation: I remember having assignments that were redacted or skipped over, not because they violated any laws, but because teachers did not feel comfortable discussing these topics in light of the recent attacks on our schools. As a board member, I will continue to stand up against bullies and will be relentless in defense of our public schools.
What is your position on restroom and sports team assignments for transgender and gender non-conforming students?
I have several friends who are transgender or non-binary and I while I know that I will never completely understand their experiences, I've learned that the thing these students need most is support. Students should be allowed to use the restroom and play on the sports team that best aligns with their gender identity. Everyone deserves to feel welcome and safe to express their true selves at our schools. I've seen first-hand the effects that restrictions on transgender and non-binary students' expression have on their mental and physical health: it opens them up to bullying and harassment and undermines their sense of self. The fact is gender identity is not a choice. No one chooses to be transgender or non-binary. It takes an immense amount of courage to express a gender identity or sexual orientation that doesn't fit with societal norms, and I have so much respect for the students that live that reality every day.
Sometimes, parents claim that allowing students whose gender identity doesn't align with the gender they were assigned at birth to use the gendered restroom they more closely align with is dangerous to cisgender users of that restroom. Namely, some pundits have claimed that allowing transgender girls to use the girls restroom opens cisgender girls up to sexual violence. While I take sexual violence very seriously, especially in schools where everyone should feel safe, these claims are baseless. There has been no instance of rape or sexual assault that has arisen in our district due to our gendered bathroom policies. However, I am distinctly aware of numerous instances where transgender or gender non-conforming students have been harassed and bullied by cisgender students solely because of their gender expression in my own school and others across the district. It saddens me that the society we live in does not give transgender students the respect and dignity that they deserve. I believe that, regardless of our personal opinions on gender and sex, what students need is support and compassion, and that's the kind of leadership I will demonstrate on the board.
Regarding sports teams assignments, I understand the concerns of parents of cisgender girls in allowing transgender girls to play on the same or opposing sports teams. However, the national attacks on transgender girls' participation in sports are less about protecting cisgender girls' ability to compete and more about intimidating vulnerable students and undermining individuals' gender identities. In compliance with Idaho law and IDHSAA code, the Boise School District does not allow transgender girls to participate in sports with other girls. These transphobic laws do not align with the most up-to-date science regarding gender and athletic performance. They have left many transgender and gender non-conforming students feeling isolated, and they've taken away the benefits that school athletics offer for the mental and physical health of these students. These rules also open all girls to intrusive scrutiny and threaten the bodily autonomy of all students. On the Boise school board, I will advocate for transgender participation in the same activities that are available to cisgender students and adherence to the most current science and recommendations from the international sporting community.
Do you have a question not answered here? Contact me!