Hundreds gather at school board meeting over critical race theory, transgender rights

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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Hundreds gathered outside the New Hanover County Board of Education meeting on Tuesday to address several controversial issues not listed on the agenda.

Two opposing groups began gathering around 4:00 p.m., focusing on topics of race and gender.

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An organization called Kids First Alliance expressed concerns about critical race theory being taught in schools.

“We need to be colorblind and we really need to have more unity,” said organizer Lindy Ford. “This is going to divide our children.”

“There are inequities in the United States but I don’t believe that critical race theory is going to help us unite the races and the people,” said demonstrator Pauline Mountainbird.

“Teach character in school, teach wisdom, don’t teach race,” said demonstrator Karen Pray. “That’s racism.”

Those on the opposing side argued there are racial inequities in society that should be addressed in schools.

“We are people of color, and you know what I’m saying, walking in our skin is different,” said Tyshoan White. “Regardless of what they’re saying that it’s equal, everything out here is not equal.”

Another hot issue among demonstrators was protections for transgender students, with many holding signs and chanting “Trans lives matter!”

Although not on Tuesday’s agenda, the Board of Education has recently discussed the possibility of transgender middle school students being allowed to play sports on the team that aligns with their gender identity.

During a public comment period at the meeting, several members of the transgender community spoke before the board asking for increased protections. Opponents argued allowing transgender girls to participate in girl’s sports would give them an unfair advantage.

Supporters of the trans community, like Title IX Committee member Leslie Cohen, disagree.

“Even if you play devil’s advocate and say that maybe a transgender child has an advantage, this is middle school,” Cohen said. “We’re not talking about scholarship money at stake, we’re not talking about state championships. We’re talking about kids learning teamwork, learning sportsmanship.”

During the board meeting, chair Stefanie Adams clarified the district’s position on critical race theory.

“New Hanover County Schools follows the North Carolina State Standards and is not teaching critical race theory,” Adams said.

You can watch the entire meeting here.