At-Large Manchester School Board member Jim O’Connell, a Democrat, is lashing out and lying to parents about a policy the board recently adopted on transgendered students.  The policy, which has has been actively opposed by parents across the city, was adopted on January 25th and will be reconsidered on February 8th.

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Commenting on a Facebook post a member of our Large and Loyal Audience published about the pending reconsideration vote, O’Connell claimed:

…(i)t’s a pretty simple concept really.  All that it says is that Manchester will not allow any of its students to be discriminated against including the very small percentage who are transgender.  Equal treatment for all should be easy for all right minded people to embrace.

In reply, Ann Marie Banfield, a nationally noted education watchdog who has been active in NH education reform efforts for nearly three decades, replied:

…actually if it is from the NHSBA (NH School Boards Association) then the policy would keep information on children from their parents.

O’Connell’s response?

…that is not true.  The usual practice of including parents applies except in extenuating circumstances.

 Banfield was absolutely right and posted a screen shot of the policy to prove it.  The actual language of the policy reads as follows:

School personnel should not disclose information that may reveal a student’s transgender status or gender nonconforming presentation to others, including parents and other school personnel, unless legally required to do so or unless the student has authorized such disclosure…(emphasis added)

As originally reported on this site, the policy not only bars school personnel from telling parents about their children’s behavior in school, it actually instructs them on how to hide the behavior from parents, directing:

…when contacting the parent or guardian of a transgender or gender nonconforming student, school personnel should use the student’s legal name and the pronoun corresponding to the student’s gender assigned at birth unless the student, parent or guardian has specified otherwise.  (emphasis added)

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More than eight hours after the post and as of this article’s publication some eleven hours later, O’Connell has not responded to his obvious falsehood, raising questions about whether or not he’s actually read the policy or is ignoring details in an attempt to deceive parents about its mandates.

O’Connell also didn’t answer a question about whether or not he was “ok with biological boys who identify as females competing with girls in the girls sports.”

Meanwhile, in an email obtained and verified by Girard At Large, O’Connell attacked a community member who emailed their opposition to the policy.   The email politely presented the persons concerns about the disadvantage girls will not be able to overcome in competition against biological boys.  Calling it discrimination against females, the author begged the use of common sense writing:

When girls have to compete against boys in sports there is no possible way for any girl – even an Olympic level female – to beat any male at the same sport or event.  What girls is going to want to compete in a sports if she has absolutely no chance to win?  Females fought hard for years…for the vote…for education and…for a chance to compete in sports but on an even playing field.  Please use common sense and stop the discrimination against females.

In response, O’Connell blatantly misrepresented the mandates of the policy, writing: 

Thank you for the email.  I think you have gotten some bad information.  There is no discrimination in our schools.  Particularly, there is no plan to change current practice. Every girl in Manchester schools has equal access to sports.  The policy change on transgender students will not mean that girls have less opportunity.  If you wish to discuss this further I’d be happy to do so.
Jim O’Connell
  • If there is “no discrimination in our schools,” why is this policy necessary?  
  • How will every girl in Manchester schools have equal access to sports if they’re forced to compete against biological boys who are biologically stronger and faster than them?  (That’s just reality, folks.)  
  • How does that mean girls will not have “less opportunity?”

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Determined to inform O’Connell about their concerns, the constituent sent this video of a star female athlete in Connecticut who lost state championship titles to two transgendered girls and, along with it, the opportunity to compete in the New England regional tournaments, at which college scouts, with scholarship opportunities, would be present.  The resident urged O’Connell to let biological boys compete against biological boys to protect the competitive playing field for biological girls to compete against biological girls.

After viewing the video, O’Connell wrote back:
I watched the video.  This is sponsored by the Alliance Defending Freedom.  This is designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  The video is from Prager University which is in the business of promoting right wing talking points and agendas.  This is not a legitimate source of information in my view.  They promote discrimination against students of all kinds based on religious views and extreme ideology.  Our children deserve to learn in a safe, loving, and protective environment.  Organizations such as the ADF go around the world (literally) stoking fear and hatred and intolerance.  There is no place for their views in our schools.  I am proud to vote for a policy that is the law of the land and protects all students regardless of race, color, ethnicity, national origin, gender or class.  This is a simple personal rights issue.  Thank you again for contacting me.
Jim O’Connell
In other words, the actual testimony from a real and accomplished female athlete who lost opportunities because she was forced to compete against biological boys is uninformed “right wing” propaganda designed to stoke “fear and hated and intolerance.”  Memo to the constituent:  You’re either a misinformed idiot or a hate monger, regardless of the demonstrable, underlying and provable facts.  Is every school district that produced the information used in the video about the performance of high school boy athletes also a “hate group?”  
Not for nothing, the SPLC has labeled just about every organization short of the Catholic Church a “hate group” for believing what the Catholic Church teaches on traditional marriage, abortion, LGBTQ and related social issues.  Is O’Connell, a lector and Eucharistic minister at St. Jospeh Cathedral in Manchester, ready to renounce his participation in a religion that’s been accused of “preaching hate” by those who oppose its beliefs and teachings?

Banfield: Caught O’Connell’s lie

When one can’t defeat the message that opposes their position, one aims to kill the messenger that opposes them in the hope of avoiding defeat on the issue.  Not surprisingly, the message from O’Connell to those who disagree with his “enlightened” progressive policy preferences is total censorship of the opposing point of view.  Were he secure in the validity of his position, his answer wouldn’t be “there is no place for their views in our schools.”  To the contrary, he would welcome the chance for them to be expressed so they could be disproven on their merits, or lack there of, by those which support his own position.  

Critical thinking, a skill he believes should be taught in school, isn’t about censoring other points of view.  It’s about allowing them to be expressed so they can be thought about, discussed, debated and come to a conclusion on.  O’Connell’s belief is one that leads to indoctrination not education.  Clearly, he wants only the point of view he espouses to be taught.  All others are verboten!  How can one think critically, and therefore be educated, when only one point of view is allowed?  

O’Connell also lies about the policy being “the law of the land.”  The state of NH merely requires an anti-discrimination policy.  It does not require this policy, which not only withholds vitally important information from PARENTS, but also creates real scenarios that discriminate against children who identify normally with their actual gender.  It may be a personal rights issue, as he says, but why does he insist on a policy that deprives other students of their personal rights and parents of theirs?  
More importantly, why is he not telling the truth about the policy and attacking concerned citizens who’ve raised very legitimate questions and concerns?