Living in Awesometown

I am sure it will come as a surprise to absolutely no one that I’d love to run for public office some day. It was always on the bucket list but life threw some curve balls at me that didn’t exactly fit into my career plans and well…here we are.

Recently a school board position became unexpectedly open and I briefly considered throwing my hat in the ring. Briefly because once sanity hit, and the usual pain I wake up with, along with my grueling treatment schedule and basically just juggling trying to stay alive…the husband and I figured maybe this wasn’t the best time to add the stress of trying to care for the educational welfare of the valley’s kids.

1st day of school 2013

I also had to think about the type of person I would want on the school board and currently *I* didn’t fit my own criteria. I wasn’t attending meetings due to my health, I wasn’t interacting with as many school administrators as I’d like, nor was I up to speed as much as I’d like on the budget or ‘common core’ or new building concerns. Sure, I was way ahead of the average parent, but that wasn’t and isn’t good enough.

Granted I’d been reading everything I could get my hands on, even old meeting notes from years and years ago. Yet still, I knew I wasn’t ready. I expect a lot of our elected officials. Which brings me to another issue I had trouble with- this would be an appointment, not an election. Something that also didn’t sit right with me.

I also had this nagging feeling that while I was being as partisan as possible since becoming disabled, I had very little right to throw myself into a position that required as much nonpartisanship as one could muster while maintaining their sense of self.

For those who are unaware I spent my early career completely nonpartisan as a traditional journalist. No one would have ever have known how I felt, voted, or leaned on any given story I ever anchored, reported, or wrote. Six Golden Mics testify to that fact and I am very proud of them.

When I left that world for blogging, I had a hard time transitioning and went from screaming my opinion to whispering it to finally finding my voice.

As it turns out, I found it just in time to stifle it again in order to take the helm of running 2008 election coverage which required me to work with both side of the aisle and every candidate on the Presidential ticket. That required me to build bridges with the RNC and the beyond which resulted in, what I am very proud to say, was stellar coverage that went far beyond election day and into the health care battle where I worked to connect women bloggers with legislators intimately. If you wanted to ask then Speaker Pelosi a question, I made that happen. If you wanted to talk to Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers, I made that happen. That was my job and I was damn good at it- and damn good at making sure that same balance of voices-left, right, center-were heard on the site as well. Do you have any idea how hard it was to manage those who shall remain name-less (but feel free to go look them up) who went on to write for Breitbart, Huffington Post, Townhall, etc. all on in one political section? I should have gotten hazard pay…and I’ll leave it at that.

So as I sat thinking about running for a nonpartisan position, I just couldn’t help but think, ethically, now wasn’t the time. Nope. I’d have to spend more time working on getting through this Affordable Care Act battle, the many LGBT battles, including the current one in our schools that thankfully the Governor took action and signed into law, among many other things before I was ready to take on a position that required me to represent a district with some diversity. I say ‘some’ because let’s face it, the Santa Clarita Valley still has a ways to go when it comes to the whole ‘white flight’ bedroom community. We’re getting better. The demo is changing. But we’re not exactly there yet. And I have too many important battles I believe need my voice on this side right now, where I am making a difference.

Now of course I would run on an agenda, and that agenda would lean left. However I firmly believe that once you are elected you are representing everyone in your district. It’s one of the things I admire most about President Obama, and one of the things that drives me the most insane about him. I wish he’d only govern with Progressives in mind, but he doesn’t. He governs with the entire country in mind. Something I would hope to do if ever elected to office. Do his policies lean left? Yes. But does he make an effort to bring everyone to the table and even include solutions from the other side…always. (And as I see conservative heads exploding as they read that…I will give you one example just to get you going: that mandate you hate so much in Obamacare? It was compromise starting point from the President to make conservatives happy because it came directly from the Heritage Foundation and Romneycare. It was the HERITAGE MANDATE, just saying…)

So where is all this going you’re wondering? Well I’ve been meddling on Facebook in some local groups. Mostly because I was following some local reporters and some friends, which lead me to mingling with local elected officials.

Currently the President of the Hart District is Joe Messina. He actually has a right-wing, radio talk show in which he regularly features people like Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute (labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center) and apparently this week he’s talking to Newt Gingrich’s wife. I can’t make this stuff up. And I can’t imagine what a student who even slightly pays attention to the board must think.

I bet the LGBT students of the Hart district must really get all warm and fuzzy when they read the President’s blog and it says (and for context- he’s speaking about a study he fails to link to claiming adolescence lasts longer and for argument’s sake pretending he agrees with the findings), “Why do we let, 7, 9, or 15 year olds decide they are gay, lesbian, or transgender? How do they make that kind of life-altering decision when their brain, according to the experts, isn’t capable of making that decision yet…If “children” ages 18 through 25 do not have sufficient brain development to make career decisions and live independently, how can children younger than that make life-altering decisions regarding sexual orientation and abortion? I doubt there’s enough “science” to explain that one to me!”

The President. Of our school board. This is what he does when he’s not looking out for my kids…he’s on the air acting like he’s the next Rush or Beck and railing against bathrooms being accessed by transgendered youth and he writes things like:

“…A New Hampshire high school graduate and boot camp graduate was barred from wearing his Marine Corps uniform in lieu of the traditional cap and gown. The young man had worked hard to make sure he had his credits done in time to leave early to go to boot camp, pass boot camp and get back for graduation. The school board, in my opinion, made a terrible mistake not allowing him to do so. No reward for his hard work. However, if he was a transvestite, would they have allowed him to dress as a woman, wear the female gown, wig, high heels, and so on? I have seen some graduations where the rainbow colors were worn as a scarf or the gown itself. And this is Equality? How?…It seems that equality is what some people (usually those on the political left) deem it to be and everyone else can, well, go pound sand!”

So you can imagine Messina and I don’t exactly see eye to eye on…well… anything. Awhile back I attempted to meet with him over tea and coffee to discuss the divisiveness I saw coming from his role as a pundit and board President and attempted to offer solutions. He was cordial. I was cordial. I made him promise to think of ALL the kids in his district when moving forward, he agreed.

Months later, I not only feel were my solutions entirely ignored but I now feel they are openly mocked. But he’s a white, Christian, Republican in a Buck McKeon town…he knows he has the advantage. Plus, everyone talks about how they just love him. Yup, they say…oh no matter what hateful rhetoric he spews on his daily show he’s such a nice guy and he really votes in the best interests of our kids, Erin! I mean, we can forgive him for being so passionate about what he believes because he gives so much time and energy on the board to the kids.

Yup. All for the kids. Please, take a look at his radio show’s Facebook page too. It’s ok, it’s all for the kids and he’s really a nice guy. Notice it has a No Bullying sign on the top. The irony, it burns.

As a parent in the district and as a someone looking to be healthy enough to one day run for office I just couldn’t let go a recent back and forth where he also took to Facebook to write things about me that are not true. Now, I get into political debates with people all over the web all the time. You have all seen me do this on twitter, on facebook, on my blog…but I can’t say I’ve ever gotten into it with the President of my local school board who then went on to lie about me.

Messina said, and I quote: “Erin – We can do this all day, you find one, ill find one, and so on.. Your rant about how Atheists are smarter than people of faith left out a lot about the ONE article you looked at and how the ATHEISTS who wrote it came to that conclusion. Yup you would make a good trustee with your very open, fair and warm support of all people.”

Now let me make something clear here. There is no ‘rant’ by me about how atheists are smarter than people of faith.

There is a facebook post in where I post a study and I ask the question if the study is ‘junk science’ and a debate takes places, by and large without me as I was dealing with two kids home from school that day. Feel free to read and take a look.

At any point in that thread do I pass any judgement on atheists or religious folk? Do I rant? Do I draw any conclusions other than to lean towards it being junk science?

That is, IF that is what Mr. Messina is referring to…because he then, oddly, accuses me of yet another lie: “…Your blog shows you believe that people of faith have a lower IQ than those who don’t, does that mean you have pity on the kids in school that believe in God? Should they have “SPECIAL” classes to help them out, Why? or Why not?…”

I asked Messina to show me where not only this so called ‘rant’ took place but to also please show me where I have ever said anything like this on my blog or ANY blog I have EVER written for, and I gave him a list from MOMOcrats to BlogHer and beyond. Just in case he wasn’t familiar with all the place I write on the web.

No answer as of yet on the Facebook thread. I have screen shots of the entire conversation which includes much, much more… like the President of the Hart School Board’s solution to the transgender bathroom issue being to put pictures of genitalia on the bathroom/locker room doors and if you match the genitalia, that is where you should enter. When I protested that this would ‘out’ the student his response was “ERIN – Outs the student, doesnt the STUDENT get OUTED when his PENIS is hanging out in the girls locker room.. Try Again!”

…and I’m the one sarcastically being told I would make such a good trustee with my very open, fair and warm support of all people.

Maybe he’s right though and the sarcasm is warranted. Because I really don’t have an open or fair mind when it comes to bullies. A sad point to have to bring up for someone in charge of leading our children. Also for someone who is ‘buddies’ with the aforementioned Dacus who has launched an all out campaign against anti-bullying programs.*

Luckily I won’t be bullied into giving up my aspirations for running for office and certainly not by someone who lies about me. I mean seriously, there are ENOUGH real and totally worthy POLICY issues we disagree on that he could have his pick from, why make something up?

There is no making sense of the senseless, I guess.

I do, however, expect more from the President of my local school board. Back up your claims about me or apologize for lying, retract your statements, and move on. My body may not be ready for a campaign but my mind is already in the fight. And I won’t be the victim of a pre-emptive strike by someone who attacks me with lies simply because he doesn’t like my politics. I don’t like your politics, Mr. Messina, but I’m certainly not going to lie about you to locals in the hopes of what? Turns votes my way in the event we ever run against each other? Sorry, I don’t play that dirty political game.

Luckily the politics in Santa Clarita Valley are changing and I will be less alone as a progressive looking out for everyone in the Valley, not just the status quo.

*I would also like to note all of my claims are backed up with linked sources, something Mr. Messina has yet to do on his blog posts or his facebook posts. 


  1. That just reminded me of how much I miss your political coverage at BlogHer. Among other things. I’m just glad they redistricted me out of Buck McKeown’s bailiwick. At least, your school district is small enough that you can easily follow what they’re doing and what this guy is saying. Harder to do with LAUSD (but I don’t imagine one of our Board members would be able to stay in office with a talk show or blog like that one).

  2. What an idiot … He sounds like a typical fear-mongering idiot.

  3. It astounds me that such things are still rampant in America. Especially California which I always looked to as a beacon of progressiveness. So much hate wrapped in ignorance! It is appalling that people believe it is fine to teach any type of intolerance to children.

    Kudos to your for taking on such an immense job of fighting the local bigotry. Most of these types spout ‘facts’, but as you pointed out, they like to twist the very fabric of a rational discussion or debate until the original words are unrecognizable.

    Keep fighting the good fight. We’re behind you.

  4. Wow…what an asshole…you might want to consider threatening a defamation lawsuit if he keeps this shit up.

  5. Yeah, you did rant. You ranted against someone who called you out for not stating your own view of the subject. Just because you asked in the original post whether some thought it was junk science, doesn’t mean you said you thought so.

    Your constant attacks on Joe and others you disagree with demonstrate that you are just as intolerant as those you rail against. Perhaps if you engaged in a more respectful dialogue of discourse people like Joe would be able to hear more than spitting vitriol. You want change? You have to BE the change. Posting inflammatory “studies” that serve to only polarize people by insulting them, and attacking people for their livelihood because it’s not what you would do is not the kind of change any of us needs.

    For what it’s worth, I’d rather sit down and dialogue with Joe who is respectful and willing to listen and brainstorm with people on all sides of an issue (despite being on the opposite political view from him), than with you. Joe does an excellent job as the President of the Hart district’s board of trustees, but you wouldn’t know that since you’ve never been to a meeting. And before you tell me you can’t attend one because of your health, I will remind you that attending a meeting of a couple hours in an accessible building takes less energy and effort than visiting Disneyland. I hope to see you actually go to a meeting and see the great work Joe and his colleagues do there – where they represent the needs of ALL kids while they put their personal needs and beliefs aside – the way a professional should act.

  6. I feel your pain. I live in Arkansas. Raging against the machine here is an exercise in futility. Hang in there!

  7. Please cite said rant – go ahead and quote where I ranted. I ‘d love to know what you characterize as a rant. And I will point out Joe said I ranted about how atheists are smarter than people of faith. Please quote this rant where I say this- because I see nothing of the sort.

    As for your assertion that I can take my kids to Disneyland yet not attend a board meeting (as I stated very clearly in my post I didn’t meet my own criteria to run due to my failure to attend meetings) this is not only a disgustingly low blow but rather rude to anyone with a disability you are not intimatly familiar. I’m going to guess you aren’t aware that I need to take strong narcotics in order to keep the pain away- and I can not drive while on these narcotics. If I get my kids from schoo I need to wait until I get them home to medicate myself.

    On treatment days I am either incapacitated by the infusion which ends around 3 pm if it’s my bi- weekly three times a week one. Or if it’s my chemo I’m in the bathroom.

    Those are just a few of my challenges- just a FEW. So if I take my kids with the help of my husband (who doesn’t get home from work until 830 pm btw) to Disney for a much deserved break from our regular lives you had better believe I will take that opportunity. Furthermore I’d love for you to see the planning that just goes into that! Which includes help!!! Doctor shots to make sure I’m safe and extra medication so i can hopefully sit in a wheelchair long enough to give my kids memories to last a lifetime. So don’t you dare even pretend to compare what if takes for me to sit through a board meeting or a plane ride or to get my hair done or even to pack lunches for my kids for school.

    I don’t really care how professional Joe is on the board or on his blog or at coffee- he lied about me. I’ve asked for an apology and retraction or evidence.

  8. Wow. How easily his disparaging tone is overlooked by those who agree with him. I live in an area with similar demographics and I’m constantly shaking my head. No matter if I agree or disagree, I am accused of rudeness or hostility. It sounds like Joe is enjoying his place as the big fish in the little pond.

  9. The only thing close to a “rant” from you on that particular FB thread is where you had a longer-than-usual reply to accusations other commenters had levied against you. Perhaps this is what they consider your rant:

    The pot stirrer is dealing with two sick children, Julie and on her way to the allergist. Forgive me if I can’t be on Facebook 24/7 to meet your needs and whim.

    I said my piece when I posted this “Those with religion… what do you think? Junk science? Those without, just confirming what you thought or junk science?” I think there is a lot of junk science out there and every study can be debunked to skew in the direction the author wants it to go. Which is why I used the term junk science TWICE while posting.

    But I think it’s worth noting that some with religion think they have a higher moral ground and some of those without think they have a higher intellectual ground. These are generalizations and thus why I say ‘some’ – I have been asked over and over again how it’s possible that I have a moral compass when I have no God to tell me or lead me in the direction of morality. I’ve also seen and heard many of those without religion claim the know more about science and all things academia and how can those with faith be ignorant of these things and if they were to only have education they would drop their religion. These are generalizations, again, but the are the crux of many disputes of our time.

    As an example you can look at what is happening in politics in DC – as they claim the lack of God is causing all the ills, etc etc etc. This trickles down to our state, city, etc. The attempt to control women’s bodies, the morality of same sex marriage, etc. etc. etc. And it appears on the surface to be a battle of those who believe in a God and those who follow another path.

    Now, where does IQ fall into this? I’m not sure it does, but it furthers the stereotype that religious folk are uneducated and non are. Which would have to fall into the junk science category because we all know this isn’t true. But it does make for a fantastic discussion about faith, education, and how it affects us all. Giving people the ability to tear down those stereotypes and talk about how we move forward with respect when we tend to all dig in our heels instead.

    Now if you will excuse me I have to take kids to the doctor, unless that is not allowed in facebook world where I must be ever present.

    FWIW I think the value of this discussion is important and can serve to help give a voice to many I know who are brilliant on both sides.

    Perhaps you got a bit snippy due to the unrealistic expectation that you should be actively monitoring the entire discussion despite the fact that you had actual living to do, but it certainly wasn’t a rant against religion or religious people or anything.

    Or perhaps it was “ranting” when you questioned whether or not people could actually have a civil debate without it devolving into nastiness, and your right to use your private FB wall as you see fit:

    There are no rules for Facebook posts – I posted a controversial topic and asked questions of both sides in order to foster discussion. That was my goal and my intent. Perhaps your attack demanding my opinion was just that – an attack- because you are sensitive to the subject matter due to our disagreement over creationism being taught as science in public schools? I don’t know. But this is my wall and my Facebook posts and if I choose to post Jesus jokes or Darwin mocking cartoons without comment I will do so with abandon. I frankly thought most of this was a great discussion until people started getting pissy and holier than thou. Which begs the question: can we talk about these things without it always devolving into mudslinging?

    I’ve copied the passages here to make it easy for Joe or J.O. to copy/paste the particular phrases they find so offensive. Maybe they can tell me what I’m missing.

  10. Thank you Christina. I’d love to know how ANY of that constitutes me ranting about how atheists are smarter than people of faith. SMH. Rolling my eyes. And also wondering about the SECOND assertion: “Your blog shows you believe that people of faith have a lower IQ than those who don’t” – well here we are on my blog… please, SEARCH AWAY EVERYONE because IT DOES NOT EXSIST.

  11. Sue Hartman says:

    OMG, I forced myself to read this very long self aggrandizing soliloguy. Sheesh, what a bore! Sorry sister, everyone has a sob story about what they would do if only, if only they could somehow. Really, all those words to pat yourself on the back about what an awesome, amazing perfect person you are and what an evil, wicked, horrible person that other guy is. Oh yeah, and you’re like totally non partisan and all toleranty and stuff. You say you want diversity but admitted yourself, you want nothing to do with anyone who has any thought different from your utopian worldview. Hypocrisy much? We don’t need your world where 14 yr old girls are forced to share and have zero protection from 18 yr old men in their bathrooms.

  12. Do you deny that you have never ever stated you felt that Atheists were smarter than Christians? It may not have been a rant, but I have certainly saw Twitter posts that imply you feel that way….

  13. Yes Laura I do deny I that I stated that I felt atheists were smarter than Christians. In tweet, blog, or Facebook. Please provide any tweet – they are all archived.

    Gee Sue, actually all these words are to get the man to retract the lies he has stated about me.

    I’m a bit confused, where did I admit I want nothing to do with anyone who has any thought different from my worldview? I said that about BULLIES, not about everyone. I think your true colors are shown in your bathroom comments, in which you claim 14 year old girls are forced to share bathrooms with 18year old men with zero protection. Something tells me you’ve been reading up on the PIJ’s fearmongering ….right? Come on….tell me I’m right. YOu know I am.

  14. If only I had the time to go back and read tweets or blog posts, I do not. I will say that I have read your blog on and off for years & follow your tweets and I am a Christian who fully embraces others view points. Reading your blog is hard, I respect your opinions, however, I do believe that you come across as in-tolerant of a different thought or opinion as yours. Not all Christians are what you think they are. I write this knowing it will never change how you approach subjects. Just as you want tolerance for your views there are people with feelings different than yours who would like the same from you. Just a thought…

  15. Laura I think you might be missing many of the points I made in my above post- which discusses my partisanship as a reason for not running. I also think that you misplace my passion for issues with intolerance. Actually, I take that back…because tolerance isn’t a word I would throw around that lightly.

    I will say I am intolerant of several things like bigotry and bullying and those opposed to equality. I don’t think you can claim your religion is loving and peaceful and giving yet have it discriminate at the same time- which is why I tend to hang with the Christian crowd that supports equality. Maybe that’s where all the confusion comes in- people expect liberals to always be tolerant. Well, we’re not. I’m not tolerant of those who do not support basic civil rights and I’m OK with that. I am very passionate about this and I speak up about it. I don’t think that makes me some sort of Christian hater though. Or a Muslim hater or a Jew hater or fill in the blank religion hater. I just do not tolerate those who discriminate, nor would I hope you.

    I did have time to go back and look for tweets for you. Here is what I found by plugging in queenofspain and christian

    Again, nothing there about me saying atheists are smarter. Or even implying it. For the hell of it I went and look to see what I tweeted on the same day (and the day before and the day after) I posted the study I had found on my facebook page – because I usually tweet and Facebook the same link.

    Here is the only thing i tweeted on the issue and it was a retweet from my friend Alana:

    ?L?N? JOY ?@alanajoy 8 Oct
    Based on 63 studies atheists have higher IQ, better self-esteem, build more supportive relationships vs religious ppl
    Retweeted by Erin Kotecki Vest
    View summary Reply Retweeted Favorite Mor

    There is no discussion before or after. Nor any replies to the retweet. Here’s the link with my retweet last and the date noted.

    I may not agree with many religions…in fact I can’t think of one I do agree with…however the allegations leveled at me are untrue and unfounded. And I’m not going to sit around and let people lie about me, certainly not the president of the school board.

    I laid out my record for those unaware of my background, because if all they read were my blog and tweets, they would think all I did was fight for my side without compromise. Thus the boring post that poor Sue up there had to force herself through. Poor thing. I hope she isn’t scarred.

    I fight hard for what I believe in. For some this is too much and I’m accused of many nasty things. I would ask if you hold everyone to the same standard. When people fight hard for what they believe in they can and do make a difference. I think I’ve shown this as I’ve fought for ACA and brought my family all the way to the White House, where I ended up in the hospital afterwards due to the trip and despite all the precautions my doctor and I took.

    I don’t say that as some ‘rah rah me’ – however if people are going to accuse me of things they need to know the entire story.

    Julie up there has sunk to dragging my illness into attending meetings and what not. How I weigh what is worth the risk and what isn’t. Going to DC was worth the risk because it was life and death for my family to be able to change minds and make a difference. A school board meeting where I can read minutes after was not. And an admitted reason why I wasn’t running.

    So understand- I have no problem with being known as someone with very strong opinions. However I won’t put up with lies being told about me.

  16. Tammy Messina says:

    Speaking of lies & apologies… I do believe I’m owed one as well.

    Here’s what you said about me on the Facebook post in question:

    “And what Mrs. Messina also fails to mention is the suicide rate of that ‘tiny’ population she doesn’t wish to accommodate for her bigger and more innocent population.” — Never said I didn’t want to accommodate them.

    “She’d rather feed them to the wolves in other bathrooms or out them in the teacher’s bathroom or send them someplace else to change where, as most students do, they will be noticed and probably get beat up.” — Never said that either.

    “Little suzy isn’t going to see a penis while the transgender friend of hers changes in the stall two doors down. She doesn’t want anyone to know she has one- but that’s something I highly doubt someone like Mrs. Messina would take the time to know.” — Pure assumption, and incorrect.

    Normally I’d just let comments like these slide. But since you’ve set the standard above, I’ll be awaiting that apology.

    Mrs. Messina

  17. What Tammy Messina (note still no Joe) fails to realize is that is a closed Facebook group so most won’t be able to click on that link to see the entire thread so I will provide context.

    Here is the article in which I was responding

    And here are my entire comments to that article:

    Erin Kotecki Vest I *am* connected and I have heard some solutions floated that do not protected those students, but OUT them to their other classmates, making them vulnerable. Furthermore making them targets. They do not want to change in teacher’s lounges or coach’s rooms or otherwise. They wish to be with their peers.

    The imagined privacy issues brought up by those wishing to subvert the LAW are the same as comparing same sex marriage leading the people marrying animals and what not. It’s offensive and ridiculous. The innocence of our children? What is THAT? What INNOCENCE are we discussing here? That they learn people are difference? OMG how HORRIBLE! We’re not all straight, white, Christians! PROTECT THEIR INNOCENT LITTLE EYES!

    Thank all the deities my children know better and understand we live in a diverse world, where there is nothing wrong with being different. Therefore I don’t have to worry about their ‘innocence’ – different does not equal BAD.

    And what Mrs. Messina also fails to mention is the suicide rate of that ‘tiny’ population she doesn’t wish to accommodate for her bigger and more innocent population. These transgendered students KILL THEMSELVES due to bullying and other factors at an ASTONISHINGLY higher rate than her INNOCENT little kids she’s desperately trying to protect from the big mean transgendered kids simply trying to stay within the community they identify with.

    She’d rather feed them to the wolves in other bathrooms or out them in the teacher’s bathroom or send them someplace else to change where, as most students do, they will be noticed and probably get beat up.

    This is a sane and easy solution that hurts no one. Little suzy isn’t going to see a penis while the transgender friend of hers changes in the stall two doors down. She doesn’t want anyone to know she has one- but that’s something I highly doubt someone like Mrs. Messina would take the time to know.
    October 20 at 3:47pm · Like · 1

    Now that we have some context let’s go ahead and take what Mrs. Messina says into account (note again, no Joe) …

    In your article Mrs. Messina you ask the question ” why are we making laws to accommodate such a small minority that have the potential for such an impact on the majority when there are alternatives that could accomplish the same goals of providing both comfort and protection to all students?
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the needs of transgender students should be ignored. We should certainly make accommodations for them, both protecting their privacy and ensuring their safety.
    But forcing them into the facilities of the students they “identify” with opens up a whole host of other issues for those non-transgender students.
    What about their privacy? Are we no longer concerned with protecting the innocence of our children?”

    I answer with suicide rates. I will admit I am confused that you ASK why are we accommodating them right along with we certainly should accommodate them and then you go on to give information on how to overturn the bill. So which is it? You lobby to have the bill overturned and you tell people why you believe it should not be there AND you ask for the safety and privacy of transgender students. I’m afraid those two paragraphs are at odds so you can understand my confusion. My apologies for saying you did not want to accommodate them at all as clearly that was not the case. However from the article- it did ask a question which I answered.

    Next at hand… what ‘other’ accommodations did you mean if not the ones I mentioned? You do understand these would be the alternatives and the REASON for this bill is to keep transgendered students with their peers and not under other accommodations that could possibly out them. All of these scenarios are ones in which the student could be accommodated in a school if not by their own student bathroom. I never said YOU said this, nor did I attribute a quote to you. By offering them something OTHER than their own gender identified bathroom, you would essentially be feeding them to the wolves. This is my opinion and stated as such attributed to you in no way other than what I believe YOU would be doing by not supporting this bill. I will not apologize for this comment.

    Next issue at hand- ‘but that is something I highly doubt someone like Mrs. Messina would take the time to know’ -yes pure assumption on what I have learned about you from this article and your stance on the issue. BTW I feel the same about your husband who’s idea it is to put pictures of a penis and a vagina (it’s ok Mrs. Messina you can say those words…try them out loud too) on the bathroom stalls and have the student simply enter the door with the parts they have. I make these assumptions because even after attempts to educate about the LGBT community there seem to be fingers in ears with adults (including you and your husband) going ‘lalalalalalalalalala’ not wanting to recognize the stats and facts given by these organizations that know best. Unless you are claiming to know more about these issues or be an expert on them than they do or are- is that the case? If so, please elaborate.

    In that same thread those of us in support of the bill have provided various links to transequality organizations explaining why your fears have not only been disproved and debunked over the course of the past decade (not only has LAUSD had this in place but also schools across the country including Houston, cities in Colorado, etc) but that anyone with any knowledge of GENERAL teen trans issues would understand your privacy concerns for the ‘majority’ again are unfounded. Again I did not say YOU said these things, this is my opinion and I stand by it given the reasons above. I will not apologize for this comment either.

    So there you have it Mrs. Messina, I’ll grant you the one apology above but my other two statements stand.

    And I truly hope you use the links provided in that thread to educate yourself on the issue and not align yourself with a hate group. Mr. Dacus and his ilk are truly vile and as a good Christian woman I would hope you’d be spending more time with people who were outside the prayer breakfast hoping to unite instead of divide.

    So about that standard…..

  18. Yikes, and I thought fighting against a school levy that would open the doors to privatize my kids’ school district was bad. The worst we’ve had to deal with is our city mayor telling those who bother to ask questions and don’t support the levy to “go join the Tea Party.”

    This guy sounds mighty narrow-minded. And as a public official, he should be better than the actions he has shown. Even if you were ranting (which I didn’t see in the examples above), he has the choice to not engage and, as a school official, should have taken that choice if he couldn’t provide a respectful response.

    I’m sorry you’re having to deal with such ugliness from a representative of your school district. He’s not doing a good job of representing the schools with behavior like that.

  19. It’s state law 1) to protect the civil rights of LGBT children (all children) from bullying, and 2) now it’s law in CA that transgender children may use facilities and join clubs or teams/otherwise participate in school activities according to their self-designated gender identity.


    2), and

    Is the current head of the school district saying he would not enforce state law that ensures all students have equitable access to the public education which is their right? Because that’s probably not what he promised to do when he was sworn in as a publicly-elected school board member.

    If he doesn’t like the laws he is welcome to attempt to change them. The same people who funded and got behind Prop 8, which was found unconstitutional by several high courts, are now mounting an effort to try to expose transgender children to harmful bullying by taking away their right to attend school free from abuse. Given past legal rulings on Prop 8, I doubt he’d be successful but he could always attempt to repeal laws that expand civil rights to transgender children and therefore his position would be crystal clear to all.

    If he’s saying he’s personally repulsed and confused by the concept of sexual identity, that’s another thing altogether. Regarding his example above about the age of LGBT kids and their maturity level for “deciding” they are gay…I wonder if he ever “decided” he was straight? Chances are if he was born straight, others who are LGBT were born that way too.

  20. Cynthia- as far as I know he is only working to change the law. He has always said (and acted) to ‘uphold’ the law while on the board however he is currently lobbying social media, radio show and otherwise to get it on the ballot via the Dacus route. Thus your second guess was right on the money.

    His position is crystal clear to all, as he talks about it all the time on social media…his wife did write the column above in the local paper which he took to social media to defend, and of course he uses his radio program to discuss the issue. So you can imagine my concern as the students hear this and know his position.

    While some seem to see this as a ‘teaching moment’ to show the differences of opinion in our valley, I see it more as a dangerous game in which the children who are already scared and bullied now feel abandoned by the adults in the community sworn to protect them. Out of one side of their mouth they say ‘I will uphold the law’ and out of the other they are pushing to repeal the law the expands civil rights to transgender children. If you are a student, what are you to think?

    It frightens me. Greatly.

  21. Erin- You’re a brave, tough woman to stand up to these people. It appalls me to see what they believe and what they write to and about you. Talk about intolerant and ignorant. How does someone not defend and protect children? ALL children? It boggles my mind. I admire you, I agree with you and wish I could do more to support you. And good, old Joe might want to learn the definition of bullying before he claims he is against it.

  22. The Santa Clarita Community FB group linked above is not closed. It’s publicly visible to anyone that chooses to look. Comments/likes are limited to members who must be either residents, employees, employers or students in the Santa Clarita Valley. All others are welcome to have a peek though. 🙂

    Additionally, I have spoken with Joe and with Tammy about their views of AB1266, as well as many others from all political viewpoints that have issues with the law (it’s not just conservatives who take issue with it). None of them wants no protection for these kids – instead, most argue it puts these kids further in harm’s way because it’s a poorly written law and because we all know that school bathrooms are a very dangerous place for all kids regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation or any other factor – kids can be cruel and impulsive. Anyhow, I found it very easy to speak with all of them about it because I showed an interest in wanting to understand their point of view rather than just oppose them or yell at them about it.

    If you truly want to unite and not divide, as you’ve commented above, maybe you ought to reconsider your approach to these issues and shift to one of calm and measured dialogue rather than spitfire assault.

  23. J.O.- I’m very glad to hear it’s open and I encourage those interested to read the entire thread because I think it will shed light on this conversation.

    I find it interesting you accuse me of wanting to divide and spitfire assault as you put it. Do you do this with the men in the group? Do you do this when Joe posts something on his website or says something on his radio show? Do you do this when Joe has yet to apologize for lying about me (something NONE of you have addressed above-minus what you called a rant against YOU…which, um… uh… lolz if you think that is a rant- again please readers, go look, it’s an open page) Do you do this during threads when people snipe back and forth yet I’m the one who is called the nasty one?

    I believe there is a deep double standard going on. Maybe it’s because no one has met me in person? Well, some have. Maybe it’s because I’m a woman and debate just as hard as the men? But seriously- I call double standard. In the group and on the blog.

    I called for Joe to make amends in the thread. He did not. I took it a step further. He’s a public figure, is he not? It’s my responsibility to hold him accountable as a citizen.

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