After a controversial school council election that year that outed a transgender child on social media, the Hastings community came together to advocate for LGBTQ rights.
Former Hastings school council chairman Kelsey Waits stood for re-election in this year’s school council elections on November 2, but in August received discriminatory comments on Facebook from groups of Hastings parents who disagreed with their policies.
A post on the Hastings Concerned Parents Facebook group was posted in August when Waits’ Transgender Child Kit was released. During and after the election, several comments were made on Facebook outings and on the wrong genders of your child.
The discrimination also took place outside of Facebook, with Waits said the comments surfaced while her husband Chris was at work and people started mismatching their child when Waits was at school board events.
“People started confusing Kit, and they were people who had never known Kit as anything other than my daughter,” Waits told the Star Gazette.
As a member of the school board that ran for re-election this fall, Waits knew parents in the community disagreed with her policies, but she never thought they would molest her child.
“As far as I know, there have been at least four cases that this group raised my child, even after the election, when I had already lost,” she said.
As the discrimination continued after Waits lost re-election, she said it had become clear that whether she was on the board or not, the harassment would continue and that her family needed to move to a safer community.
The Waits family then shared their story with CNN how a group of Hastings parents who disliked the policies of Hastings School Committee Chair Kelsey Waits revealed their 8-year-old transgender child during their motion for re-election to the board.
After the story was published, many Hastings residents raised their support for Waits and Kit and hundreds of people from all over the area are coming to show their support for transgender children and other LGBTQ youth at Hastings’ Rally for Trans Kids on December 4th to show.
Activists, parents of transgender children, LGBTQ allies and concerned local residents gathered in the park in Levee Park to celebrate transgender youth and denounce the discrimination they face.
The rally was organized by Afton Indivisible, Hastings Progressives, RECLAIM, ACLU of Minnesota and other local organizations.
Waits told the crowd that her family came up with the harassment to shed light on the bullying experience of transgender children.
“While this CNN story is our story, so are all of our stories,” she said at the rally. “This is about the daily hatred we experience, the fear we experience, to be ourselves and to fight for what is right. This is about putting hatred in the spotlight and saying, ‘We’re all done’. “